The British 100m record-holder is looking to make the most of the opportunity when she contests the 200m and sprint relay at the IAAF World Championships
Seven years after watching Usain Bolt’s record-breaking performances in Beijing when at home with her mum and dad as a 12 year old, Dina Asher-Smith says she feels “privileged” to be among those competing as the Bird’s Nest again welcomes the world’s best athletes.
But the teenager has more than earned her place at her second IAAF World Championships. Having revised her 100m and 200m personal bests to 10.99 and 22.30 respectively this season – the 100m mark bettering her own British record and the 200m time putting her second on the UK all-time list – Asher-Smith decided to concentrate on the half-lap event and the sprint relay in China and can’t wait to take to the track.
“This season has been quite good for me,” she says modestly. “I’m excited to get out on the track and run, not only because as I’ve said the season has been good but also because it’s the Bird’s Nest and it’s so iconic.
“When I was younger I was watching everybody perform so well in 2008 and I’m just really grateful and I feel privileged to have the opportunity to run and compete at the World Champs inside such an iconic venue.”
On one of her memories of the 2008 Olympics, she adds: “I was with my mum and dad on the sofa watching Usain Bolt. We were like ‘oh my word, oh my word’ and then he started to pull away. It was absolutely amazing.”
“I feel privileged to have the opportunity to run and compete at the World Champs inside such an iconic venue”
Now, with her 200m campaign beginning on Wednesday (August 26), Asher-Smith herself will be among the athletes being cheered on in Beijing and although that thought could be quite daunting, the world junior 100m champion will be putting her previous experiences, which include claiming world 4x100m relay bronze in Moscow two years ago, to good use.
Rather than being in awe of her rivals – which in Beijing are set to include the likes of the new world 100m silver medallist Dafne Schippers of Netherlands and USA’s world no.2 Candyce McGrone – Asher-Smith says she has a “huge amount of respect” for them and is determined to make the most of the opportunity.
“When you step on the line you do have to remember that you are there for a reason,” she says, going on to reflect on the Birmingham Diamond League event earlier this summer which saw her finish one hundredth of a second behind a US 1-2 comprising Jeneba Tarmoh and Allyson Felix.
“I’d been lucky enough to have been given a lane and it’s not like I’m going to get like a hurdle in the middle of it just because I’m not an Olympic champion or Olympic finalist – we run the same distance and we’ve got the same opportunity, so you can’t afford to waste it. You have to rise to the challenge when you’re in a race with those kind of people.
“I’m just looking to perform to the best of my ability,” she adds.
“As long as I genuinely feel like I have done everything that I can, I’ll be happy.”