It has been a journey for Dina Asher-Smith.
The 25-year-old has gone from carrying athlete kits on Super Saturday at the London Olympics nine years ago to being the flag bearer for the GB team.
Since Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah won gold medals on a historic day in British athletics, it’s fair to say that it inspired Asher-Smith to great heights.
Recalling the experience of the 2012 Olympics, she said: “I was lucky enough to be a card carrier and I did it on Super Saturday.
“So I saw Jessica Ennis-Hill, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah doing absolutely amazing things.
“It really inspired me to see how much people want British athletes to be successful.”
The impact left on Asher-Smith, the GB team poster for the Tokyo Olympics, is clear.
She won her first senior world medal in the 100m at the World Athletics Championships in Doha in 2019, before claiming gold in the 200m a few days later.
The London-born sprinter also has experience competing at the Olympics, having finished fifth in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Notably, Asher-Smith, Asha Philip, Desiree Henry and Daryll Neita won bronze in the 4x100m relay with a British record of 41.77 seconds at the same Olympics.
Further successes came at the European Athletics Championships in Berlin in 2018 as she won three gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relays.
Britain’s fastest woman Asher-Smith is now one of our top hopes for gold as she prepares to run the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay in Tokyo .
She holds the UK records in the 100m and 200m with times of 10.83 and 21.88 seconds, respectively.
It is this kind of speed that makes her a marked woman at the start of the races coupled with her growing profile off the track that has seen the covers of Vogue and Elle bloom.
And Asher-Smith doesn’t seem fazed by the predictable psychological warfare that is likely to unfold in the weeks to come.
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She said, “Personally, I don’t participate in mind games and I have certainly had people try it on me.
“But I mind too much of my own business. Sometimes people decide to warm up in my hallway or the one I used. I don’t get mad, I just think it’s really sad.
“When I go into a race, I will spend the last moments of time with my coach and my support team doing what I can to improve my performance. It rarely depends on someone else.
“Right now you’re trying to think about winning. So you do what’s best for you to win the race. If they think the best chance they have of winning the race is to distract me, that says a lot.
“So I don’t play mind games. I like the 200m turn, I like chasing people – it’s a fun game that I like to play.
Asher-Smith isn’t just a star on the pitch, she’s a star too.
She worked hard for nine A * GCSE grades before studying for a history degree at King’s College London and leaving with a BA (Hons).
And more potential medals at the Tokyo Olympics will only add to what has already been an extremely impressive career.
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