History making Asher-Smith graduates with world honours

Doha (AFP) –


Jessica Ennis-Hill's heptathlon gold medal on 'Super Saturday' at the 2012 Olympics inspired a young kit carrier that night to pursue her dream of becoming a champion -- on Wednesday it came true for Dina Asher-Smith.

The 23-year-old wrote another page in British athletics history by delivering their first world gold in the 100/200 metres as she produced a dominant performance in the 200 to win in a new national record of 21.88 seconds.

Asher-Smith said in the past standing in the Olympic Stadium and watching Ennis-Hill -- who was one of three British victors that night along with Greg Rutherford in the long jump and Mo Farah in the 10,000m -- inspired her to want to enjoy similar success.

Thus it gave exra satisfaction for the erudite Asher-Smith -- who achieved a history degree whilst she was also focusing on her athletics career -- her first global title comes at the same age as both her British idols Ennis-Hill (2009 world title) and 400 metres star Christine Ohuruogu (2007 world title).

"It means a lot to be even mentioned in the same sentence," said Asher-Smith at the medallists press conference.

"It is no secret that I admire Jess and Christine immensely.

"What they achieved is an inspiration to me and to other women. Chrissie has even been texting me every day giving me encouragement."

Asher-Smith has come a long way since she had to be bribed with the offer of an ice cream by her parents -- who were in the crowd at the Khalifa Stadium -- to keep going in a cross country race at primary school.

- 'Special things' -

However, she is now seen as a trailblazer for British women in sprinting, though, she liked to see it as a broader picture than that.

"It feels good," she said.

"In many walks of life women try and push boundaries and redefine what is possible.

"Whether it is British women or Allyson Felix and Shell-Ann Fraser-Pryce sportswomen in general are also trying to do that in sports."

Asher-Smith, who burst into tears in the aftermath of her victory, said the little girl who first went to an athletics track would have a hard time believing the older version was now a world champion in faraway Doha.

"She would not believe me at all, said Asher-Smith.

"I was saying earlier weirdly enough I used my younger self as a reference when I was in the warm-up area and began to get nervous.

"I recalled my first championships in Moscow (2013 worlds) at the age of 17.

"I was literally so scared I was holding the relay baton but my hands were so sweaty I thought it would fall out which is not very glamorous!

"I swore to myself I was never going to be that inexperienced ever again.

"Tonight she would not believe me at all."

Asher-Smith, who also won silver in the 100m on Sunday, said despite her parents support she would dedicate her gold to her coach John Blackie, who was also in the crowd with his wife.

"I know my parents will be frustrated and I apologise," she said bashfully.

"I have known him since I was eight-years-old.

"Even even when I was little and still trying to jump over hurdles and do long jump he would say please watch yourself, stay fit please do not try them because you can do special things.

"I did not see what he saw.

"So this medal is for his patience, intelligence and wisdom."