Olympic sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, 25, is already the fastest British woman in recorded history and considered one of the UK’s most influential people of African or Caribbean descent, according to The Powerlist.
She’s a serial medal winner but nevertheless faces some seriously intimidating competition at the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
Her best times this year for the 100 metres and 200 metres are 10.91 seconds and 22.06 respectively, which puts her behind the likes of Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the first event (she recently hit 10.63) and American sprinter Gabby Thomas in the second (21.61), both of whom are now the second fastest women of all time in their respective categories.
But Asher-Smith says she is not worried and believes she always delivers her best on the big stage when it matters most.
“I didn’t watch anything in Jamaica or the US but obviously I know what’s happened,” she said. “The women have been running incredibly quickly this year and it’s amazing for world sprinting. I always back myself because I know what kind of shape I’m in.
“I definitely have faster in me. I’m in good shape, I’m in actually really, really good shape so I’m really excited. And I’m a championship performer.”
Born Geraldina Asher-Smith in Farnborough, Hampshire, on 4 December 1995 and raised in Orpington, Greater London, she attended Newton Wood School and King’s College London, where she studied for a BA in history and graduated in 2017.
She is a cousin of ex-footballer and BBC pundit Garth Crooks and follows the sport closely herself, supporting Manchester United, whom her relative briefly played for in 1983/84.
Asher-Smith is a member of Blackheath and Bromley Harriers Athletic Club, is coached by John Blackie and has been attracting notice as an sprinter since she was as young as 13 and running the 300 metres in 39.16 seconds, setting a world record for that age group.
As a junior, she went on to win the English Schools Championships 200 metre title at under-15, under-17 and under-20 levels, the last in 2013, the same year she won two gold medals at the European Junior Championships in Rieti, Italy, where she again won the 200 metres and the 4 x 100 metre relay as part of a team also including Yasmin Miller, Steffi Wilson and Desiree Henry.
That quartet broke the British junior record with a time of 43.81 seconds.
Asher-Smith also took part in the same event at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, Russia, alongside Annabelle Lewis, Ashleigh Nelson and Hayley Jones, winning bronze, the same year she was shortlisted for BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year
In 2014, at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Eugene, Oregon, she won the 100 metres posting a time of 11.23 seconds.
Asher-Smith followed that by picking up silver in the 60 metres at the European Indoor Championships in Prague, Czech Republic, in 2015 and by securing gold and silver medals at the 2016 European Championships in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, winning for the 200 metres and relay respectively.
That same year, she represented Great Britain at the Rio Olympics and won Bronze as part of the relay team, also coming fifth in the 200 metres.
After winning another relay silver medal at the 2017 World Championships on home turf in London, Asher-Smith picked up a gold in the same discipline at the Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast as well as the bronze for the 200 metres.
She hit the form of her life at the European Championships in Berlin, Germany, in 2018, dominating that year’s track events and picking up gold medals in the 100 metres, 200 metres and relay races.
Later that year, she was back in the Czech Republic and made off with two more silver medals at the Continental Cup in Ostrava.
Before the pandemic struck, her largest major competition appearance was at the 2019 IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar, where she won gold in the 200 metres once more, plus two more silvers in the 100 metres and relay events.
That same year, she recorded her all-time personal bests for both the 100 and 200 metres, 10.83 and 21.88 seconds respectively, which she will need to surpass to see off the likes of Fraser-Pryce and Thomas in Tokyo.