Dina Asher-Smith Rio 2016 ()Dina Asher-Smith Rio 2016 () © Copyright

Dina Asher-Smith // Box to podium

“I LOVE TO RUN,” says Dina Asher-Smith, 20, at about one million miles per hour. “I’ve always loved running.” She is a rare breed of elite athlete who finds fun at the heart of it all. “When I was little I was running into ponds and stuff, doing the most ridiculous things.”

There are no longer puddles but running still doesn’t feel like a job. Essay deadlines stress her out more than sprinting. Unlike many young athletes who’ve taken a break from education, Asher-Smith has taken a demanding twin-track as an Olympian and history undergrad at King’s College, London.

Dina Asher-Smith Rio 2016 ()

 

Straight after A-levels in July 2014 she went to America and won the world 100m junior title. One month later she posted a mightily impressive 200m PB of 22.61 at the European Championships. Closing the year ranked 17th in the world might have been enough adventure for some teenagers: Dina hadn’t even started.

She went out hard at the indoor season the following March and won a European indoor silver medal in a time of 7.08. It is the fastest 60m run by a teenager anywhere ever, and the first of three national records she set in 2015.

With another set of exams boxed off Asher-Smith won a stacked 100m race at the London leg of the Diamond League in July. Her time of 10.99 made her the first British woman to go sub-11.

Dina Asher-Smith Rio 2016 ()

 

One month later she made an indelible impact on the global stage over 200m. Unable to curb her enthusiasm, Asher-Smith set a PB 22.22 to record the fastest time in the heats. She repeated both feats in the semi-final with a blistering 22.12 and a third personal best in the final, 22.07. Setting a new PB in every round is the ultimate trick for a championship performer. That final time would have been enough for gold at the previous two world champs but at Beijing 2015 her senior rivals were just too fantastic. Dafne Schnippers took the race to a different planet, winning gold in a championship and European record 21.63.

Asher-Smith cried when she won the British title that secured her Olympic berth in June. In Rio she will represent Team GB over 200m and the 4x100m relay. There is no weight of expectation on Asher-Smith but given her accelerated development so far, you’d be a fool to rule out a quick sprint to the podium for Britain’s fastest woman.

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