Dina Asher-Smith is ‘big game performer’ who can handle British medal burden, says Greg Rutherford

·1-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Former Olympic champion Greg Rutherford says he feels bad about the size of the burden Dina Asher-Smith will carry into the Tokyo Games, but insists the sprinter can handle the pressure.

Rutherford flew under the radar heading into London 2012 before winning a surprise long jump gold on the same night as Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis-Hill on ‘Super Saturday’.

Four years later in Rio all three returned as not only defending Olympic champions but having also won gold at the World Championships in Beijing a year earlier. Rutherford and Ennis-Hill both added Olympic silver to their collections, while Farah defended both his 5,000m and 10,000m titles.

This summer, however, Asher-Smith is the clear poster girl for British athletics as she targets medals in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay, particularly with the country’s only other track and field world champion Katerina Johnson-Thompson short of form after a serious Achilles injury.

“It’s sad that for the last two Olympics, there were multiple athletes who absorbed that pressure,” Rutherford told Reuters. “In London there was Mo and Jess and obviously I came through as well.

“Now it’s all on Dina. But she is a big game performer as we saw in the worlds. I don’t fear for her that it could get too much. She loves the big events.

“But it’s unfair if people assume she will win three medals. If it’s one gold, or two silvers, or one gold and a bronze it would be unbelievable.”

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