Generation Next: Dina Asher-Smith

ELLE speaks to the 21-year-old European and World Junior Champion gold medal-winning sprinter


This content has been created in collaboration with Pandora.

What's not to admire about Dina Asher-Smith?

The 21-year-old European and World Junior Champion gold medal-winning sprinter is the fastest British woman in history – and the world's fastest-ever teenage girl over 200m in the history of her sport.

Not bad for a young Londoner who 'got into athletics' after her primary school entered her into a local cross-country championship (which, naturally, she won).


One of the brightest young stars of British athletics – who just happens to be juggling her training with her studies for a history degree – Dinah takes time out from training to reveal what it takes to make it to the top.


Dina Asher-Smith was just eight years old when she watched the 2004 Athens Olympics on TV – an experience that made her 'want to do sport at the highest level possible'.

That in itself isn't so unusual – boys and girls all over the world have been inspired by the feats of Olympic athletes. What sets Asher-Smith apart is that she possesses the drive and the talent to do it.

'You do have to be very dedicated and make a lot of sacrifices in
many aspects of your life,' she agrees, 'so there must be a base level
of enjoyment. First and foremost I love it. Racing is something that naturally excites me and I'm fortunate to be able to call my training partners some of my closest friends – so training consists of belly-aching laughs as well as hard work,' she says.

That hard work has seen the sprinter win gold in both the European and World Junior Championships (in 2013 and 2014 respectively). But it was 2015 that proved to be Asher-Smith's breakout year when, at the World Championships in Beijing, she raced an astonishing 22.07 seconds over 200m – a time that saw her honoured as both the world's fastest teenager and the fastest British woman in history (the latter accolade breaking a record of 31 years' standing).

'That was a huge surprise,' she says of the world record. 'I had no idea until about an hour after the race when I logged onto my Twitter account. I still can't believe that I have run the fastest time ever by a teenager over that distance – in my head I'm like 'Me? Seriously?' It hasn't sunk in yet to be honest.'


Such is the buzz around her, it's practically a given that she'll be representing Team GB in Rio this summer, but it's clear that Asher-Smith is not one to rest on her laurels.

Ask her she sees as her next challenge and the talk isn't of medal hauls and breaking records, but simply 'Making the Olympic team'. Why?

'There are so many talented girls running quickly in Britain right now that making the team will be a big achievement in itself,' she explains.

Being tipped to be one of Britain's next great athletes is, she concedes, 'a really big compliment and nice to hear, but at the same time you have to forget about these things if you don't want to get overwhelmed. It would be too easy to get carried away with what everyone is forecasting rather than focusing on doing the work to get there – it doesn't mean anything if you don't put the work in.'

It's safe to say Asher-Smith is doing just that. Watch this space.


Tell us a little about your personal style. You obviously spend a lot of hours in sportswear, but what about outside that?
 I love dressing up! Unfortunately I don't get to do it as often as I would like, but when I do I love it. I love heels, dresses, jewellery, make-up – the works. I love anything with a little bit of sparkle in it. Day-to-day my uni friends laugh at me because I'm always in either black, white or grey with minimalist jewellery. Some call it boring, I call it classic.

You mention jewellery – what do you like to wear?

I wear jewellery every day and most of that has sentimental value – a necklace from both of my uncles, a ring that is a present from my mum and my Pandora bracelet from my boyfriend. I also love earrings.

Even when you're training?

When I'm training and competing I stick to studs or small hoops – gold is my preferred metal – but when there's a special occasion I go far bigger and more glam. I love stones. Sapphires, tanzanites and emeralds are my favourites, but then again any will do!

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