Life moves in the fast lane for Orpington sprinter Dina Asher-Smith
PUBLISHED: 09:13 21 February 2013 | UPDATED: 09:13 21 February 2013
Boys, exams, fashion fads and a strict training regime. Okay, so maybe the life of one of Britain’s fastest under-20 sprinters isn’t strictly “normal”.
But Orpington’s Dina Asher-Smith, 17, is taking it all in her rather pacey stride as she juggles schoolwork, parties and time on the track.
The pupil of Newstead Wood School recently clocked a personal best time of 7.36 seconds over 60 metres in the colours of her athletics club, Blackheath and Bromley Harriers.
Just two senior sprinters have run faster times so far this year but the result came as a surprise for Dina who was spurred on by a deal made with her mother.
“I had no clue I was running that quickly,” said Dina. “After winter it can be worrying to see where your speed is at, so I had low expectations.
“It was funny because my mum and I made a bet that if I make a certain time she would buy me an iPhone – it was 100 per cent a surprise. I couldn’t believe it.”
Having started as a cross-country runner at Perry Hall Primary School in Orpington, she joined the Harriers as part of the Bees Academy under coach John Blackie.
He has continued to train Dina and was a big part of her transition from long distance to sprinting.
Her efforts at the track event at the Lee Valley last month were the result of a strong work ethic and dedication to a sport that she is beginning to think of as a career.
She said: “At Bees I realised I could long jump and from that my coach noticed I could sprint.
“I wasn’t always the fastest in my year at school and wouldn’t always win at sports day but my speed now is down to working so hard.
“I can’t deny that now I’m aiming for the Rio Olympics, but had I been asked that a year ago I would said ‘no’. It’s only lately that I’m taking it more seriously.”
Dina is also a straight A student, achieving nine A* grades and two As in her GCSEs last year.
Parents Julie and Winston may be responsible for her sporting pedigree but the teenager maintains above all else their work ethic is what helps her achieve top results at school and in sport.
“It’s all good being naturally gifted, but you need to train,” said Dina. “I would say about 70 per cent of speed is training and technique.
“I have a work ethic because of my mum and dad, they encourage me. My dad is Jamaican and used to run casually because it’s their national sport, but my mum ran for the Herne Hill Harriers. She was quite good.”
Dina knows the hard work must continue to keep hold of her mantle as one of our top young sprinters.
She spends eight hours a week on the track and carries self-imposed pressure on the track to improve.
“I don’t want to be comfortable where I am. As soon as I relax I guarantee someone will beat me. Athletics is a sport where anyone can come out of nowhere.”
Huge success beckons for Dina and proof she is considered highly by the sport came recently when she was chosen to run at the senior indoor European trials.
Ever modest, she added: “I have been invited more to run with the others rather than against them, but it’s a good sign and another step forward.”