Dina Asher-Smith has spoken of the “weirdness” and “relief” she felt when the Tokyo Olympics were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 24-year-old was highly favoured as a medal contender for the Games and was poised to build on her World Championship 200m gold and 100m silver she won last year in Doha.
She was still “gym-ing on her patio” when the UK went into full lockdown on March 23, a day before the International Olympic Committee pushed back the Games until July 2021.
"When it was postponed I remember weirdly feeling personally relieved,” Asher-Smith told Eddie Hearn’s ‘No Passion No Point’ podcast.
“That sounds so strange for an athlete to say but I remember that day it was postponed, all gyms were shut, tracks were shut, I had no access to physios, no access for biomechanics and I just remember thinking, ‘I have absolutely no idea of how I’m going to train to an Olympic standard, for what I want to be the best moment of my career, from inside my flat.’ In the weirdest sense I was relieved.
“I'm personally OK with it being postponed; one, because of the circumstances and, two, because as a team it has given us the luxury to step back and say now we have more time. That’s the same as every athlete. Everyone has had time to review and it’s not necessarily going to be the end of the world.”
The rescheduling of the Olympics has resulted in a jam-packed cycle for athletics, with back-to-back World Championships set to take place in Oregon in 2022 and Budapest in 2023. The 2024 Olympic Games in Paris will follow after.
“I think athletics, especially in the UK, has a real opportunity in this period,” added Asher-Smith, who incorporates kaizen - a Japanese philosophy which focuses on continuous improvement - into her training.
“We’ve never had a period where we’re going to have four global events back-to-back, and big exciting global events.
“In terms of the long-term future of athletics, weirdly I think as a sport it has one of the biggest opportunities simply because of the big shuffle.
“That's why right now, I’ve taken the time to step back and really kind of ground myself and focus on where I am as an athlete. From our perspective, having those events lined up over the next four years, we have such great potential.”