“I am absolutely sure that all her competitors across the world have finally registered what she can do,” he said. “When you put Dina's multiple gold-medal-winning and world-leading, world-class times together, if they are not fearful, if they are not ...and more »
13 August 2018 • 5:46pm
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Dina Asher-Smith’s rivals should be running scared after her historic achievements in Berlin, the head of British Athletics has warned.
Asher-Smith made history as the first British athlete to win three European titles when she claimed 100 metres, 200m and 4x100m gold – all in times that put her top of the global rankings.
Neil Black, British Athletics performance director, described her treble as the best British performance he had ever seen.
With World Championships and Olympics to come over the next two years, Black said the 22-year-old was now ready to take another step up and prove herself as one of the best sprinters on the planet.
“Her performances in Berlin were out of this world,” he said. “And it might sound a bit corny, but they were a coming of age, too.
Asher-Smith picking up one of her three gold medals Credit: Getty Images
“I don’t think we ever really believed that a British sprinter would outshine the guys and produce such world-leading performances.
“We knew that Dina had loads of talent, but I just think what she’s done with three gold medals is incredible.
“It’s better than anything I’ve seen, really. She has been so focused, so determined, so professional and so calm. She is a pleasure to have around and she has really demonstrated to everyone else in the team how to go about performing at the highest level.”
Asher-Smith has repeatedly been quick to warn that next year is a totally different challenge, with the Americans and Jamaicans having no major championships to peak for this campaign.
However, Black is adamant that those on the other side of the Atlantic will have watched her with trepidation last week.
“I am absolutely sure that all her competitors across the world have finally registered what she can do,” he said. “When you put Dina’s multiple gold-medal-winning and world-leading, world-class times together, if they are not fearful, if they are not respectful, then they must be crazy.
The 22-year-old has shocked herself with her British record-breaking times at these Championships Credit: Reuters
“There is more to come, and she knows that. I honestly think this is the beginning. I don’t think these performances are it. I think she is going to run even faster. On the surface, she is this lovely, butter-would-not-melt-in-her- mouth person. But underneath it, she is ruthless when she needs to be.”
A sprint relay double and a Laura Muir triumph on the final night of competition saw Britain top the medal standings in Berlin with seven golds and 18 medals in total.
“We leave Berlin happy, without doubt,” said Black. “It has been a brilliant championships. I have no doubt we have a strong crop of genuine potential global medallists.”
It is not only those within the British camp who have been impressed with Asher-Smith.
Seb Coe, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, is also predicting big things.
“She’s now clearly identified herself as one of the key players next year,” he said. “The great thing about Dina is that she strikes me as being, of all the athletes I’ve seen recently, the one really that just clearly loves big championship racing. It’s so nice to see somebody that walks out into a stadium and you just know that she feels at home there. She’s got that crucial asset.”
Both the men's and women's 4x100m relay teams celebrate their victories Credit: PA
With British athletics looking to move on from the dominance of Jessica Ennis-Hill, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford, and the sport, as a whole, seeking new figures to replace Usain Bolt, Coe says Asher-Smith is the perfect candidate.
“We do need to make people realise just how hard it is to achieve what Dina did,” he said. “It’s statistically tougher to do what she’s done than in almost any other sport.
“We’ve got to make sure the talent that we have is promoted properly. One of the big areas where I think we can make a bigger and better difference is to work with the talent that is there to get that global reach.
“The great thing about Dina is that she’s interesting. I talked to her a few years ago, we were chatting about the fact that she was doing a history degree, and she said ‘I’m buried in my dissertation at the moment’.
“So I said, ‘what’s your dissertation?’ And she said, ‘it’s not something you’d be interested in’.
“But it was the impact that jazz has had on social integration, which is actually more interesting than athletics.
“There are other things in her world and that will stand her in good stead when the pressure’s really on. I thought it was terrific.”
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