Tokyo 2020 - Team GB athletics captain Dina Asher-Smith on her love for the Olympic Games
Dina Asher-Smith has told Eurosport of her love for the Olympic Games and her pride leading Team GB’s athletics team in Tokyo. Watch every unmissable moment live from Tokyo 2020 across Eurosport, Eurosport app and discovery+. Download the Eurosport app for iOS and Android now. Stream every unmissable moment of Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 live on discovery+, The Streaming Home of the Olympics.
'I don't understand how they'd enforce it' - Dina Asher-Smith questions Olympic protest ban
“I think I’ve wanted to be an Olympian since I was eight years old,” she said.
“I remember watching the Athens Olympics in 2004 and I remember that it was this idea that every four years people that were really good at something could get together and see who was the best. I’ve always been uber-competitive and I just saw it and thought ‘I really love that’.
I did not know what I was going to do, did not know that I could run fast at that point, did not know that I was going to be a sprinter, but I’ve always wanted to go to the Olympic Games and I’ve always wanted to be an Olympian.
Dina Asher-Smith is aiming for gold for Team GB at Tokyo 2020
Image credit: Getty Images
The Londoner was named as captain of the athletics team for Team GB in Tokyo, but she says that the personal pride plays second fiddle to the pride the whole team feel for being in Japan, particularly given the tricky circumstances of the last 18 months and the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m truly honoured to lead our athletics team to this Tokyo Olympics, it’s a moment of personal pride for me, I did not ever envisage being a captain,” Asher-Smith said.
“But I know that it’s also a moment of pride for the whole team [being here] because this has been a very weird 18 months for all of us, not just athletes but also the general public.
“So not only do I want to go and make sure the team put their best foot forward, but also that we have fun.
“Obviously you wear your mask and follow all the rules, but the Olympic athletes must be amongst the most tested people in the world right now. If there’s any population of people who are more tested than us right now I’d be surprised.”
‘Almost all of the pressure will be on her’ – Rutherford on Asher-Smith’s remarkable opportunity
Asher-Smith has also warned Olympics organisers they would be "shooting themselves in the foot” for punishing any athlete if they take the knee on the podium.
The IOC had relaxed competition rules to allow Team GB women footballers to make the gesture against racism before their game against Chile in Tokyo.
However, it said medal winners would face disciplinary action if they took the knee on the podium.
Asher-Smith, 25, believes that any ban would be "unenforceable".
The world 200 metres champion said: “When it comes to people’s voices there’s very little you can control.
When people feel strongly about something, particularly when it’s something that’s so close to your heart - particularly for me that topic would be racism, as a black woman you think about racism - I just think you can’t police people’s voice on that.
Asher-Smith, who has not declared whether she would take the knee if she wins a medal in Tokyo, said imposing the rule is "an incredibly difficult thing to do".
She drew comparisons with the 1968 Games in Mexico City when American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists on the medal stand.
Team GB players take the knee before kicking off against Chile
She added: "Some of the Olympics’ most iconic moments have been the black power salute by Tommie Smith wayback when, that is something people remember the Olympics for, something they’re very proud to see at the Olympic Games.
"So to think they’re suddenly going to get up and say 'absolutely not', I think they’d be shooting themselves in the foot."
- - -
Watch every unmissable moment live from Tokyo 2020 across Eurosport, the Eurosport app and discovery+. Download the Eurosport app for iOS and Android now.