Britain’s world 200m champion may not compete at all this season
Dina Asher-Smith is prepared to sit out 2020 completely rather than risk coronavirus infecting her Olympic dreams.
The 24-year-old hasn’t competed since last October’s world championships in Doha where she bolted to 200m gold.
But even though some of her sprinting rivals will be back in action when a slimmed-down Diamond League kicks off in Monaco next week, Asher-Smith reckons it could be a gamble too far – even though she’s fully fit and raring to go.
She said: “If you’re taking your emotions out of the moment and the whole ‘I want to compete during coronavirus to show it isn’t going to beat me.’ If you remove yourself from that situation, the best thing to do is to prepare for the long haul.
“Because we’re going to have a very intense four years. So it’s better to build that foundation. That’s what I’d prefer to do. But my coach (John Blackie) might change his mind.
“It also comes down to how safe the races are. I’m not in the mood for racing for racing’s sake this year. The stakes are a bit too high. I don’t fancy catching coronavirus at an event.
“Being a runner, it’s a respiratory disease, it’s a year before the Olympics. I don’t fancy running any risk. So I don’t know if I’m going to run before the end of the season. It’s about making smart decisions at the moment.”
The absence of one of the sport’s biggest names would be another blow to organisers of next month’s Müller British Athletics Championships in Manchester which is set to go ahead behind closed doors.
But whenever she returns, Asher-Smith plans to be better than ever.
And rather than idling during lockdown, she has been leaving no stone unturned to be ready to hunt gold in Tokyo in 2021.
She told a UK Active conference: “I’ve not gone: ‘Oh it would have been my Olympic final today.’ I just focus on what’s next. My Olympic final is next year.
“We’ve used the time during lockdown to really improve on the things that you don’t normally get the luxury of the time to be able to do.
“In elite sport, you’re always chasing on to the next thing and the next. You never get a time to sit back and reflect, you don’t get a lot of time to step back and build and improve.
“I’ve had the opportunity to review everything from psychology to nutrition to how I do things on the business side to all my training methods as well. We’ve used this period to just come out stronger and push into the next phase.
“Which is not just the Olympics but also the next world championships, the Commonwealth Games, two European Championships and another Olympics, all before 2024. We’ve taken stock to make sure we’re strong enough to cope.”