Britain’s greatest female sprinter reveals how she is loving her new life in America

© Imago/Dina Asher-Smith Instagram.

Britain’s greatest female sprinter reveals how she is loving her new life in America

Joel Omotto 13:00 - 18.04.2024

The former world champion made a bold decision to ditch the spotlight in Britain for a low-profile stint in the US and the move is already paying off in her career and personal life.

British sprinter Dina Asher-Smith decided to move to the United States last October after splitting with long-time coach John Blackie following a poor 2023 season.

Asher-Smith finished last in 100m and seventh in 200m at the 2023 World Championships in Budapest and weeks later, she announced her split from Blackie, whom she had worked with for 19 year,s and linked up with Texas-based tactician Edrick ‘Flo’ Florea.

That was a life-changing decision for Britain’s greatest female sprinter as it meant “a new coach, a new group, and a new philosophy.”

However, for her, it was not just getting back her mojo on the track but also rediscovering herself as a person, away from the spotlight and pressures of the British media and public.

Six months in and Asher-Smith admits it was a wise decision which is already paying off in her career and personal life.

“I’m loving it in Austin and I’ve been very spoiled with the sunshine. I feel like everybody laughs at me when I talk about the sun. But, as a Brit, it changes everything,” Asher-Smith told The Guardian.

Under Florea, the 2019 world 200m champion trains with world indoor 60m champion, Julien Alfred and Irish 400m star Rhasidat Adeleke, who finished fourth in the world championships in Budapest, as she prepares for the Paris 2024 Olympics but in her spare time, she engages in other interests such as pottery and golf, things she is now able to do while relaxed unlike back home.

“I wanted to learn a new skill, something creative that stimulated my mind in a different way,” she added, regarding her foray into pottery.

“And I’m loving it. I go once or twice a week, and I’m chatting to people, being bad at stuff, watching things collapse, and trying again. I’m still not very good at putting the handles on. But I’ve been posting it to my close friends and teammates on Instagram. And they’ve all been asking: ‘Can you bring me back a mug?’”

“That feeling of always being ‘on’ – of always having to look all right, because people will stop you and take a picture. And always having to appear happy, even if you’re having the worst day ever. It has been almost 10 years since I can just kind of ‘be’ in my life,” Asher-Smith said about the benefits of being far way from Britain.

She is grateful that athletics is not so huge in Texas, meaning she can do her pottery and practice her golf swing without caring what people will say.

“So – and I know it sounds silly – I’ve just been going for walks, playing mini golf and Top Golf, and just doing stuff that I wouldn’t necessarily feel super comfortable doing in the UK because I know that my job would be a topic of conversation. Being able to switch off has been one of the best things,” she said.

Since winning her 200m gold medal at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Asher-Smith has not tasted victory in any major event, failing to defend her title in Eugene in 2022 when she clinched bronze, while she managed silver at the European Championships the same year.

She also won her second straight bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics in the 4x100m with Team GB, having seen a hamstring injury force her out of the 100m semi-final.

Heading into Paris 2024 Olympics, the 28-year-old is not looking to right the wrongs of three years ago but rather seeking to write a new chapter in her career.

“I’m not somebody who carries any kind of baggage,” she said. “I don’t think that’s a useful way to run. You have to go into everything with a clean slate. Some people are very motivated by previous frustrations. But I’m somebody who just needs to feel free and light and joyful to run fast. That’s my mentality.”

The decision to move stateside is paying off already for as Asher-Smith, Lanae Thomas, Adeleke and Alfred combined to run the fastest women’s 4x200m time in history at the Texas Relay in March after clocking 1:27.05, an average of 21.76sec per person.

She then made a rare foray up to 400m to run a lightning fast 51.19 relay leg, something that gives her great optimism heading into the Olympics.

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