DINA ASHER-SMITH revealed she has been seeing a psychologist since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Britain’s fastest woman’s dreams of Olympic glory last summer were thrown upside down with Tokyo 2020 delayed a year.
Dina Asher-Smith turned to a psychologist at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemicCredit: Carla Guler / Women’s Health UK
Britain’s speed queen wants to be in the best place mentally to compete at the top levelCredit: EPA
But she refused to let the scuppered plans cripple her years at the top of world athletics.
And so the Londoner, 25, immediately took the step of turning to an in-house psychologist at British Athletics to keep her mentally on track.
Speaking to Women’s Health, Asher-Smith revealed: “When the pandemic hit, it was like, ‘Right, okay, let’s make sure my brain’s okay.’
“The first thing I did was to get a psychologist because I’ve worked too hard for too long to have something like a pandemic ruin the next few years for me.
“We’ve got five years on the go, which in track and field we have never seen before.
“And the only way you can put your best foot forward is by being in the right frame of mind.”
Asher-Smith broke her own British records for the 100m and 200m at 2019’s World Championships in Doha to win silver and gold respectively.
She was also part of Team GB’s 4x100m relay team that managed a national-best 41.77s lap to claim bronze at Rio 2016.
And it is that level of unparalleled ability that has seen her thrown into the British public’s conscience – not that she would have chosen to be such a famous figure.
Asher-Smith added: “Believe it or not, when I was at school I was quite shy. But, obviously, you realise that being shy, unfortunately, is incompatible with being a high-profile sportsperson.
“People will take your shyness as either you’re trying to hide something, or you’re being mean, or being cold – and you just have to come out of your shell.”
That shyness could easily have seen Asher-Smith drop out of sport participation, as it does for a large group of girls as they hit their early teens.
The Orpington sprint queen is not surprised, though.
Many do not have the role models to inspire them and are made to feel as though a career as a sportswoman is not a plausible avenue.
Thankfully for Asher-Smith, the Williams sisters helped transform that misconception for her – as they have done for the new generation of tennis stars.
The athletics ace – who will be hoping of bringing home golds from next month’s European Indoors in Poland – said: “There’s a big drop off of girls who do sport when they’re about 13 to 15 or around that age, and everybody seems to be confused as to why.
Girls see the ideal of femininity projected to them and, as a young sportswoman, you look and think, ‘So, am I opposite to that?’
“To me, it’s perfectly clear. I think at that age, when people become more aware of their surroundings and people start to look for who they are, what it means to be a woman, sport isn’t in that picture.
“They see the ideal of femininity projected to them and, as a young sportswoman, you look and think, ‘So, am I opposite to that?’
“You have to show that being a career sportswoman is viable, is celebrated, is positive, it doesn’t come with stereotypes, it doesn’t come with boxes that you have to fit and that it’s not at odds with being a woman.
“When Serena and Venus were the only two black women in tennis all that time ago, they were able to be pioneers.
“But now you’ve got Naomi Osaka, you’ve got Coco Gauff, Sloane Stephens.
“You’ve got so many black girls because the Williams sisters have shown, yes, this is a sport they can play at the highest level.”
Asher-Smith is preparing for this summer’s rearranged Olympic Games in TokyoCredit: Carla Guler / Women’s Health UK
The Londoner recognises why so many girls drop out of sport at an early ageCredit: Carla Guler / Women’s Health UK
She was speaking to Women’s Health magazine for their March editionCredit: Carla Guler / Women’s Health UK
Asher-Smith won three medals at the 2019 World Championships including the 200m goldCredit: AFP or licensors
Venus and Serena Williams have helped pave the way for black girls to dream of making a career in sportCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Source: Athletics - thesun.co.uk