Dina Asher-Smith, Athletics, Women, Menstruation, Tokyo Olympic Games 2020, Olympic Games

Dina Asher-Smith, Athletics

Dina Asher-Smith: ‘You get 10 seconds to make your mark’

Dina Asher-Smith: ‘You get 10 seconds to make your mark’

7/25/2021 11:28:00 AM

Dina Asher-Smith : ‘You get 10 seconds to make your mark’

The fastest woman Britain has ever seen is also thoughtful, inspirational and willing to talk about things that athletes often avoid, like politics and periods. But in the countdown to the Tokyo Olympics, sprinter Dina Asher-Smith knows that every second counts

thisclose to the ground, hugger-mugger with the other athletes, the moment will smell to her of skin cream and sweat, also the rubber of the track, a smell that might remind you or me of a playground’s springy surface, but which always makes Asher-Smith think of home. She has been a competitive sprinter since primary school. She started medalling in major 100m and 200m races about the time she was old enough to drive. Now, at 25, she is one of the fastest two or three women alive, and surely Britain’s best hope for athletics gold this summer.

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On Friday morning, she’ll try to rid her mind of any such expectations. Crouched on the track she’ll place herself in an imaginary bubble, ignoring smells, impressions, sounds, even ready to ignore the echoing pop of the starter’s pistol. Wastes time, Asher-Smith has learned, listening for that. Better to try to

feelthe gun go and in the very same instant go herself. Ballerina focus will be required, next, to recreate a precise pattern of initial steps that she’ll have planned in advance with her coach. That ought to be the end of any conscious effort on her part. Over the next eight or nine seconds in a 100m race, or the next 20-something seconds in a 200m race, she says: “I shouldn’t really know what the sensations are. I shouldn’t be in a place to be reflective at all. I shouldn’t be feeling, only doing.” headtopics.com

Golden girl: at the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar, 2019.Photograph: Martti Kainulainen/Rex/ShutterstockWell, Asher-Smith concludes, throwing up her hands – that’s the idea. Everything written above is perfect-world stuff. While she talks through it, painting a detailed picture of her ideal racing routine, Asher-Smith is cross-legged on her couch at home, still with a bit of time to go before she boards a plane to Japan. She drinks coffee from a mug, threatening spills to a pale zip-up sweater whenever she gestures with her arms or leans back to laugh at the ceiling.

Maybe it’s the comfort of chatting from her own flat, or the buzz of the caffeine, but Asher-Smith can discuss the coming Olympics with a level of coolness and political candour that’s rare in athletes as they creep towards a competition that will in one way or another define their lives. Experience has taught her that any funny obstacle might yet rear its head, some wrinkle or overlooked detail.

Winning ways: Dina Asher-Smith wears bralette, skirt and jewellery all byand shoes by neous.co.uk.Photograph: Danny Kasirye/The ObserverShe talks about warming up before a race in Monaco, some years ago, and hearing the judge say a few words in French that were unfamiliar to her. “And then the gun went off and I was, like, ‘Urgh.’” (Turned out those unfamiliar words were her instructions to get ready and get set.) Nothing can be taken for granted, Asher-Smith explains, “because there are always going to be uncontrollables, things that might pop up, things you’ve just got to keep rolling with. At the end of the day, these races are on arbitrary dates and at 9.01am or whatever, the gun goes whether you’re ready or not.”

There’s a basket behind her that she’s been slowly filling with must-pack items to take to Tokyo. Earplugs. Trusted makeup. She’s been practising being idle, preparing for those long waits between rapid races. Of course she’s been training her body with regimented, religious strictness, trying to time everything so that she peaks (“so that I’m in the shape of my life”) just as the competition begins. Asher-Smith also wants to say on record that she’s been planning for other possible interruptions that do not traditionally earn their mention in newspaper profiles. headtopics.com

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“Periods,” she gasps. “Oh my God, I started planning for my periods back inJanuary. Look. Everybody’s different. Some of my friends in athletics say, ‘It’s not even a part of it for me. I don’t think about it.’ And some of my friends are, like, ‘Arrrrgh! Noooo! Not today!’ Their bodies aren’t as regular. They’re, like, ‘Why now? When I’m wearing white?’ For them, periods can be make or break.”

Asher-Smith has tended to fall somewhere in the middle, she says. Not someone who’s ever been doubled over in pain or sickness before a race. Absolutely someone who knows what it is for her performances to suffer. Read more: The Guardian »

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Tokyo Olympics: Stopping athletes taking the knee 'unenforceable', British sprinter Dina Asher-Smith says Dina Asher-Smith says 'protesting and expressing yourself' are a 'fundamental human right' and that the IOC has 'no choice' about allowing it. The Olympic committee need to stamp out this kneeling to a marxist cult. If they allow it, then what other political gestures will be tolerated ? That's very true but the Olympics is not meant to be about politics and it's a disgrace if any of them do in my view Well it is they just disqualify you ?

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