World junior champ getting to grips with her Euro Indoors success
Speaking just over two weeks after winning her first major individual senior medal and becoming the quickest teenager in history over 60m, Dina Asher-Smith says her performance in Prague hasn’t sunk in yet. It could take a while before it hits her, too. The smiley sprint star still can’t believe she’s a world junior champion either.
Last week the 500 days to go to the 2016 Olympics milestone was marked and while athletes continue on their roads to Rio, the occasion gave Asher-Smith the opportunity to reflect on how far she’s come in the past three years.
“Surreal” is how Asher-Smith describes it. Since London 2012 when she was a box carrier in the Olympic Stadium, the Blackheath & Bromley Harrier has gone on to win double European junior gold, form part of Britain’s world bronze medal-winning relay team in Moscow, become world junior 100m champion and secure European indoor 60m silver in a British record-equalling time in Prague, as well as break a few UK records along the way.
“Everything has happened quite quickly but at the same time I’m just eternally grateful,” says the 19-year-old, who has also been sponsored by Nike since 2012 and joined up with Pace Sports Management, agents to the likes of Usain Bolt and Mo Farah, in 2014. “For my age I think I’ve been really fortunate and got really good experience.”
One experience she’ll never forget is being in the Olympic Stadium on ‘Super Saturday’.
“We obviously knew that Greg, Mo and Jess were competing but we didn’t know that it was going to be probably one of the biggest nights in British sporting history,” recalls Asher-Smith, speaking at a Nike launch event in London.
A year later and she was back on the Olympic Stadium track, but this time as a competitor at the Anniversary Games.
“I was running in the relay and I was just like ‘woah!'” she says. “They still used the same box carrying teams that they used in the Olympics and I saw my old team there and I was really offended that they replaced me!” she adds with a laugh.
After what she describes as a “glorious” rest week post-Prague, the sprinter is back at it and gearing herself up for some “hard lactic sessions” in the coming weeks.
“It hasn’t hit me yet,” she says of her indoor season success. “I think me staying in this dream state is important though, because I can take the momentum and not get complacent. I need to carry that hunger into the summer season.”
Asher-Smith intends to open her season in May and hopes to compete at a few Diamond League meetings this year as she works towards trying to secure a spot on the GB team for the IAAF World Championships in Beijing. That all forms part of her own road to Rio.
“Obviously you think about Rio, that’s your aim and everything is geared towards it,” says Asher-Smith, who has wanted to be an Olympian since the age of around seven.
“You can want to do something but you never actually know if it’s going to come true,” she adds, “because I’d like to fly but at the end of the day that’s not going to happen unless some inventor makes it happen!
“So yes, the Olympics. I’d love to be there, I’ve got a lot of work to do between then and now.”
» Dina Asher-Smith was speaking at the Nike Free: Force of Nature showcase, launching the Nike Free 2015 Running collection – designed to allow the feet to move the way they were meant to. See nike.com #NIKEFREE