Interviews

Dina Asher-Smith: Interview with Team GB’s World Junior 100m Champion

On how she has achieved so much whilst so young:

I’m not entirely sure; in my head, I don’t move very quickly! I do work really, really hard – I train 5 days a week now, which is tiring, especially balancing it with uni – but once you’re used to it it’s OK.  I work hard, I’m pretty focused and I’ve got a good training group.

On training with those of a similar age:

Everyone’s going through the same thing, it’s easier to normalise it; if you were going through it by yourself, you’d think it was really weird, meeting so many elite athletes that like to devote their lives to this. But you’ve got someone else who’s still learning and developing. It’s really good to have someone just like yourself in the same situation, you know you’re not alone.

On winning silver in the 2015 European Indoor Champions 60m with a time of 7.08 seconds (equalling the British record):

I just remember thinking, ‘Run, run, run!’

I just remember thinking, ‘Run, run, run!’ But yeah, I was so happy. Immediately after the race, the results board had broken, and no-one knew where they’d come… And I thought, could this be any more tense?! It must have been about 10 seconds but it felt like 25 hours! And then I saw my name pop up with the silver, and I was just so happy.  I was so shocked; I did not think that I was going to run that fast!  So I’m just absolutely over the moon!

On managing school and university work with training:

I’d started school doing sport, and just doing athletics was a reduction from what I used to do, so I got used to it. But school to uni was a bit of a jump: I used to train four days a week in secondary school, then it went up to five. But also the work jumped too! Studying at uni is pretty stressful sometimes. But if you’re organised and plan ahead you waste less time and you procrastinate less. But it’s actually so much more interesting and much more fun than I expected it to be!

On recent stories of drug usage in sport:

When you’re a competitor, I do think it’s an issue that needs to be addressed head-on. But, when I’m in race mode, I really do try not to think about it. Particularly because, with sprinting, when you step on the line you have to be absolutely confident in your abilities, you don’t have the time to be questioning yourself. Any shade of doubt puts your start off and you give yourself a disadvantage. I really don’t want to think like that during the season – because I really hate losing.

On possibilities of life-banning an athlete for drugs offences:

You’ve got some cases of people who do it inadvertently, like Rhys Williams, a team-mate from Moscow; he recently got a drug ban, but that’s not just him at all. What he got caught for wouldn’t have aided his performance but it got contaminated, it wasn’t meant to have this thing in it. So to say he should get a life ban because of that kind of mistake and just to swipe everybody with the same brush is unfair. There are those that do it deliberately, but it’s hard to make the distinction. There’s so much grey matter.

 

On Heather Watson and the issue of repressed discussion of menstruation in sport:

It’s one of those things that’s pushed to one side, definitely. All the doctors are a bit squeamish – they do try and help, but at the same time, they don’t understand. It’s really difficult for female athletes to manage their periods sometimes. I think it’s one of those things that science really has to invest its time in, because if the commentators are like, ‘Oh, she had a really bad day, that’s out of the blue!’ Period. You just know. But in the meantime you’ve got to speak to the older athletes and get coping methods.

On plans for the future at uni and in athletics:

I’m definitely trying to balance both. I’ve still got loads to learn for my exams! But my goals for athletics since I’ve been little, I’ve always wanted to be go to the Olympics! That’s my big goal. It’s kind of weird, because crunch time’s kinda getting closer!

I’ve always wanted to be go to the Olympics! That’s my big goal.

On possibly competing at Rio in both 100m and 200m:

You never know, you might not be quick enough to do one or the other; there might be three other girls quicker than you going into it. There’s such a long time between then and now as well. To be able to do six races in a champs – it tends to be the really experienced and really good athletes that do that. If you watch, none of the younger athletes tend to double up, simply because it’s so hard on your body and it’s so mentally draining that you need years and years of conditioning to get through that. So I don’t know, we’ll have to see.

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