Dina Asher-Smith is the fastest woman over 100m and 200m in British history and appears to hold Great Britain’s best chance of picking up a first female sprint medal since 1960 at the Olympic Games next year.
But while the 19-year-old admits she is dreaming of a podium place in Rio, for the time being she is refusing to set that lofty ambition as her target.
Asher-Smith ran a personal best in each round of the 200m at the recent World Championships in Beijing, culminating in a British record time of 22.07 seconds in the final to finish fifth.
That time was not only the fastest by a teenager in history but would also have been good enough for a silver medal at the London 2012 Olympics, meaning expectations for next year’s event are incredibly high.
It is 55 years since Dorothy Hyman won GB’s last female Olympic sprint medal – claiming 100m silver and 200m bronze in Rome – and Asher-Smith acknowledges her mind is already turning to next year’s showpiece.
“I guess everything is building towards Rio now for me. I’m going into this winter with the motivation that I want to be an Olympian next year,” she said.
“I really don’t know if I’m targeting a medal at the Olympics or not yet – it completely depends on what happens next season and what shape my body is in.
“Everybody will want to go to the Olympic Games and win a medal but it does completely depend on what happens as the season goes on.”
While Asher-Smith is a force to be reckoned with over 200m, she is no slouch when it comes to the blue riband event of the 100m either.
At the London Anniversary Games in July she became the first, and to date only, British woman to run under 11 seconds over the distance by clocking 10.99 seconds.
Despite only being 19 years old, she is now the fastest British female in history although she concedes that the magnitude of her achievement hasn’t fully sunk in.
“I try not to think about being the fastest women in British history over 100m and 200m,” she added. “But if I do, I have to pinch myself in amazement!
“It’s still very, very odd that little old me is the fastest woman ever simply because I know so many talented athletes have run for GB and I’ve watched so many talented female athletes sprinting.
“I just think it’s very odd that I’m somehow the fastest.”
Asher-Smith was speaking after giving a sprinting masterclass to young athletes at the Sainsbury’s 2015 School Games in Manchester.
The Sainsbury’s School Games sees over 1,600 young athletes competing across 12 sports and after being a participant back in 2012, Asher-Smith insists it served as the perfect launching pad to her senior career.
“When I competed at the Sainsbury’s School Games, I remember making loads and loads of friends from all different sports,” she explained.
“We met gymnasts, people who did table tennis, cyclists – it was so much fun. It was one of the first time I was exposed to a multi-sport environment and for that I was really grateful.
“It’s the closest thing we get on home soil to mimicking an Olympic Games and it’s a great opportunity for the athletes to experience the multi-sport environment and high-quality competition.”
The Sainsbury’s 2015 School Games is supported by a range of partners including the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, Sport England, Youth Sport Trust, Department of Health and British Paralympic Association. The Games are taking place in venues across Manchester (3-6 September 2015). Visit www.2015schoolgames.com for more information.