While the track community celebrated a return to elite and high-profile racing over the weekend at the Monaco Diamond League, not every athlete is ready to get back into competitions just yet. According to an Athletics Weekly report, British 200m world champion Dina Asher-Smith has said she might skip the entire 2020 track season if the global pandemic doesn’t improve. She said it “comes down to how safe the races are,” and that she isn’t “in the mood for racing for racing’s sake this year.”
Not worth the risk
After her world championship win in Doha in 2019, Asher-Smith showed the world that she’s a threat for gold at the Tokyo Olympics. Her immediate focus is working toward the 2021 Games, but that isn’t her only goal. She said she will be eyeing Tokyo, the Commonwealth Games, two European Championships and the Paris Games, all in the next four years. At just 24 years old, Asher-Smith will likely be a force to be reckoned with for at least the next two Summer Olympics, and while she would of course like to race this year, it’s hardly a priority for her.
“We’re going to have a very intense four years,” she said. “So it’s better to build that foundation. That’s what I’d prefer to do.” She added that since COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, she doesn’t “fancy running any risk” and that “it’s about making smart decisions at the moment.”
Not missing much
Asher-Smith won’t miss too much if she skips the 2020 season as a whole. Even if she wanted, she couldn’t qualify for Tokyo 2021 right now since Olympic qualification won’t be open for track athletes until December 1. She will miss out on minor racing opportunities, but that doesn’t appear to be a big concern of hers.
“I don’t fancy catching coronavirus at an event,” she said. She also noted that she has spent the pandemic working “on the things that you don’t normally get the luxury or the time to be able to do,” such as taking extensive looks into her psychology, nutrition and even her personal marketing as an athlete.
“In elite sport, you’re always chasing the next thing and the next. You never get a time to sit back and reflect.” Whether she races or not this year, Asher-Smith appears to be confident that she will be ready to compete at next summer’s Olympics, and if her pandemic training has gone as well as she says, then the rest of the sprinting world better be on high alert come Tokyo.