Team GB Exclusive: Asher-Smith refusing to get carried away with Rio looming

The 2016 Rio Olympic Games are now less than one year away and in terms of Great British medal prospects, Dina Asher-Smith must be near the top of the list when it comes to athletics.

But despite being the fastest woman in British history over 100m and 200m and despite setting three personal bests en route to coming fifth in the 200m at the recent World Championships in Beijing, Asher-Smith is refusing to commit to an Olympic podium place as her goal – for the time being.

The 19-year-old has already proven she knows how to peak at the right time, improving her time in each round of the 200m at the Worlds before clocking a British record 22.07 seconds in the final.

On the day, that was good enough for fifth place – as Dafne Schippers from the Netherlands picked up gold – but the time was the fastest by a teenager in history and would also have seen Asher-Smith win a silver medal at the London 2012 Olympics.

Statistics such as those are why expectations surrounding her are so high and there is a genuine belief that in Rio next year she can win GB’s first female Olympic sprint medal since 1960, when Dorothy Hyman walked away with a silver and a bronze.

But while she admits experiencing the World Championships will stand her in good stead, Asher-Smith is not getting carried away.

“I’m really, really happy with how I performed in Beijing. Three PBs, one in each round and I came fifth in the final – I really couldn’t ask for any more,” she said.

“If you told me before the competition I was going to come out with a 22.07 seconds PB, I would have thought you were lying!

“I’m genuinely really, really happy and I had a great time. It was one of those invaluable experiences where I learned so much and I was so grateful to have the opportunity to run in such an iconic venue.

“I guess everything is building towards Rio now for me. I’m going into this winter with the motivation that I want to be an Olympian next year.

“I really don’t know if I’m targeting a medal at the Olympics or not yet – it completely depends on what happens next season and what shape my body is in.

“Everybody will want to go to the Olympic Games and win a medal but it does completely depend on what happens as the season goes on.”

While Asher-Smith was focused on the 200m in Beijing, she is no slouch when it comes to the 100m either.

At the London Anniversary Games in July she became the first, and to date only, British woman to run under 11 seconds over the distance by clocking 10.99 seconds.

Despite not yet being 20 years old, the 2014 World Junior champion is now the quickest woman in British history over both sprint distances and she claims that the magnitude of her achievement is yet to truly sink in.

“I try not to think about being the fastest women in British history over 100m and 200m,” added Asher-Smith. “But if I do, I have to pinch myself in amazement!

“It’s still very, very odd that little old me is the fastest woman ever simply because I know so many talented athletes have run for GB and I’ve watched so many talented female athletes sprinting.

“I just think it’s very odd that I’m somehow the fastest.”

© Sportsbeat 2015