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Nov 26 - Dec 8, 2019
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Slow and steady, Asher-Smith turns a sprinting star

The 200M gold medal on Thursday confirmed the Briton’s rise as a force to reckon with.
Dina Asher Smith Celebrates Her Triumph
Dina Asher-Smith celebrates her triumph. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

Dina Asher-Smith had been knocking on the doors of stardom for many years now but when it finally opened on a cool Wednesday night in Doha, she was completely unprepared to welcome it.

A floodgate of emotions opened along with it, reducing the sprinter to tears as she struggled to comprehend the magnitude of her achievement.

At the Khalifa International Stadium, Asher-Smith became the first woman from Britain to win a World Championships gold in sprints, with her 200M victory, and that realisation swept her off her feet.

In a world dominated by the likes of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Elaine Thompson, Dafne Schippers and Shaunae Miller-Uibo, the Briton has taken some time to arrive – to move from the fringes to the centre stage. When she finally did arrive, the 23-year-old did it in a commanding manner.

“When I was out there, I was thinking, please, please run the race that you know you can and win. I’m so proud I did,” she said after timing a career best of 21.88sec to outclass American Brittany Brown (22.22) and Mujinga Kambundji (22.51) of Switzerland in the final.

Dina Asher Smith Was Reduced To Tears As She Struggled To Comprehend The Magnitude Of Her Achievement
Dina Asher-Smith was reduced to tears as she struggled to comprehend the magnitude of her achievement. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

The mature, confident manner in which she ran contrasted sharply with her early days on the international stage. She was 17 when she made her World Championships debut in Moscow six years ago, struggling to control her nerves.

“I remember being at my first World Championships in Moscow when I was 17 and being so scared,” recalled Asher-Smith. “I was sweating, holding the relay baton in my hands, and being scared it was going to fall out. I was reminding myself today that I was never going to be that inexperienced, that unprepared or that nervous ever again.”

All season long, Asher-Smith had been showing signs that this could be her year, with powerful performances on the Diamond League circuit. She won in Doha and Stockholm, but lost to Miller-Uibo at Birmingham and Zurich in super quick 200M races. Significantly, she was also running fast times in the 100, with a 10.88 at Brussels as her best of the season.

The 23-year-old then put it all together in Doha to deliver her career-best show, with a silver medal in the 100M in 10.83 last Sunday acting as a launching pad to another personal best on Wednesday in the 200. Her progression suggested she could be in for further improvements in the Olympic year.

“It’s less than a year away, so we’re already thinking about it. We’re in a continuous cycle, when the last one ends you start thinking about the next one. I don’t think there’s any time that you’re not thinking about the Olympics,” said Asher-Smith.

The Briton was fifth in the 200M at Rio three years ago, timing 22.31 sec – a personal best at the time. She has taken big strides since then, as evidenced by her timings in Doha.

Dina Asher Smith With Her Coach John Blackie
Dina Asher-Smith with her coach John Blackie. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

“We’ve still got things to work on. I’m still getting stronger and more experienced physically and mentally. So hopefully there’s a lot more to come. It should be an exciting journey,” she said.

Born in London to Jamaican parents, Asher-Smith has been coached by John Blackie from the age of eight. It has been a long and fruitful association with mutual trust as its cornerstone and it was no surprise to see her dedicate the gold to her coach.

“I didn’t see what he saw in me, but he has always believed in me and been careful with my progression, to advance me when I needed to be advanced and to hold me back so I could get stronger. So this’s dedicated to his persistence, intelligence and wisdom,” she said.