The British sprinter will compete in both the 100m and 200m at the Tokyo Olympics; 100m matches are held in the early hours of Friday morning with a semifinal and a final on Saturday
“I’m always confident that I’ll be fine at this point, because that’s what I love and live for. Most of all, I can’t wait to compete.”
Dina Asher-Smith broadcasts when she talks about a race. Not only does the sprint make her smile from ear to ear, but the art of racing moves her.
The thought of standing on the starting line with the best in the world and competing against them is not discouraging for Usher-Smith, it is exciting. She is excited by the prospect that all eyes are on her and that the years of work will be reduced to seconds.
Usher-Smith is the fastest British woman in history. She is the reigning world champion in the 200 meters and world medalist in the 100 meters. At 25, she is a team GB athletics captain, and when Usher-Smith is on the starting line in the grand final, there is no other place she would prefer to be.
Fortunately, then, that Usher-Smith’s parents were always trying to find ways to expend their boiling child’s energy, and that a friend asked her for a favor at an early age.
“I was always running around and doing mischief,” Usher-Smith told Judy Murray of Sky Sports’ Driving Force. “They [my parents] always made me participate in many different clubs and sports activities.
“When they set up a running club in elementary school, my friend asked me to go with her because she really wanted to go. I just thought I didn’t like running; I thought you were just running around and you didn’t get points or anything. like!
“Then she said that if I went with her, she would bring me ice cream from the van after school. . “
When signing up for this first session, Usher-Smith inadvertently presented her name in advance to represent her school in the local cross-country competition. This was at Crystal Palace and this would be the first race of his famous athletic career.
On this day, Usher-Smith became the fifth of about 400 children. She returned home with a certificate, a trophy, a new game her mother had promised her, and the feeling that she could just do it again.
Her performance, and you also suspect her personality, meant that she was spotted by some athletics coaches and invited to go to the track. In fact, the track on which Usher-Smith started training – Norman Park Athletic Truck – is the one she is still training on at the moment.
Not only did Usher-Smith find her trail at an early age, but she also found her coach, John Blackie.
“When she came, it was immediately very obvious that she had some talent,” Blackie said. “At this stage, however, there was a lot of untapped talent.
“We knew she was going to be a very good athlete, but what we didn’t know was how she was going to be and what her events were going to be. She was pretty good at everything she was doing.”
Blackie, whom Usher-Smith says she simply knew as the “boss” in the early days, took care of this young athlete in the right way. He knew the importance of making things fun, involving her parents, and making sure she didn’t do anything too soon.
“With all young people, you don’t want to push them into things they may not stay in,” he said. “So you do everything. Dina did everything all the time.”
Asher-Smith’s progress through the ranks was natural, and as expected with Blackie’s philosophy, he was not forced or pressured. She began working more with Blackie and moved into representative athletics.
Usher-Smith competed in her teens and said the fact that Blackie was the father of girls helped them both orient themselves during that time. No topics were banned, instead all physical changes, menstrual cycles, moods and more were discussed and discussed.
“A lot of people deviate from that, but John never did that,” says Usher-Smith. “I can have so many open discussions with John, and if I tell him I have cramps, he will often say that if you’re in so much pain, let’s just adjust the session, the week, and so on.
“I shouldn’t say it’s a breath of fresh air because it’s said to be true, but for a male coach [to have that understanding and openness] it’s true. There are some who do, but not all. It’s obviously huge. a factor in high-performance sports. “
“This is extremely important [their partnership],” Colin Jackson told Sky Sports for Blackie and Usher-Smith.
“As an athlete, you have the confidence to know that there is someone who is guarding your back. A person who will do everything possible to make your life easier.
“I told people that Malcolm [Arnold] was my stepfather. In fact, he saw me more than my father because I spent so much time with him.
“Like Dina and John, we were together during my teenage years and beyond. He saw me in my dirtiest way to become a champion.”
In 2019, Usher-Smith had a World Cup to remember. She won the world title in the 200 meters in 21.88 seconds, took silver in the 100 meters and then another silver in the 4×100 meters relay.
As a result, the 25-year-old became the first British athlete to win three medals at a World Cup, and the upcoming Olympic Games next year looked promising.
The news of the postponement of the Games and the onset of a global pandemic could derail Usher-Smith and Blackie. Instead, they both saw it as an opportunity.
“In athletics, you often push for the next championship and the next goal, and because we work in such hard training blocks, there is often very little room for change.
“So I thought that in this pandemic and an extra year before the games, let’s add all the things we didn’t add after the World Cup.”
An element that Usher-Smith added to her life was a visit to a sports psychologist, and she wants to be open to her reasons.
“Seeing a psychologist is not necessary because there is a problem,” Usher-Smith told Gary Neville in Sky Sports’s The Overlap.
“I didn’t go because I had a problem or a problem, for me it was part of my performance. Where I want to go and what I want to achieve, we get to the top and he makes sure everything is focused on that.
“It wouldn’t be unwise of me to leave something as big as your mentality to chance. Although I don’t think it’s accidental, I’m leaving it to the wind.”
It’s time for Asher-Smith and Blackie to play, as they strive for individual success in the 100 and 200 meters in Tokyo.
She arrives in Tokyo after being undefeated this season, but withdrew from the British Grand Prix on July 13 due to a tight tendon. The withdrawal was a “precautionary measure” and in a recent post on social media, Usher-Smith seemed to be sprinting freely and hard in training.
“I’m really excited,” Usher-Smith said. “I like to compete. What I always love about sprinting is the rush of adrenaline you get.
“When the gun explodes, it’s all about the answer to the question, what do you have? How many nerves do you really have? It’s about that moment; if not now, when.
“That’s the part I love about racing because I love things like that. I’m always confident that I’m going to get better at this point because that’s what I love and live for. Most of all, I just can’t wait to compete.”