European Athletics Championships 2014: Dina Asher-Smith makes the grade on and off track
Gaining a place at King’s College University is followed by record-breaking 200m performance
Thursday 14 August 2014
On this evidence, Dina Asher-Smith will surely have even better days but this one, she said, was the greatest of her life so far.
It began with the 18-year-old finding out she had done sufficiently well in her A-levels to earn a place to read history at King’s College University, and ended with her breaking the British 200m junior record en route to a place in Friday’s final, with a time of 22.61sec.
A medal is now a distinct possibility for the 100m World Junior champion, who clocked the third fastest time despite easing over the line as she took 0.14 seconds off her personal best.
As her friends from Newstead Wood School in Orpington, Kent, celebrated their results by going out on the town, Asher-Smith merely asked them “to tune into TV” for Friday’s final.
Asher-Smith’s night was spent with room-mate Morgan Lake watching Britain’s only medal of the night, another silver for Will Sharman to match his one at the Commonwealths. As in Glasgow, it could have been gold had he not clattered the seventh and eighth hurdles. “I could have done more, that’s why I was gutted,” he said.
For him, it was a case of what might have been, but not so Asher-Smith, who after winning her heat described it as “the best morning of my life”.
Following her blistering semi-final run, it became her greatest day. “Definitely, without a shadow of a doubt, a junior record, I got into King’s, I made the final, I just really couldn’t have asked for much more out of this day,” she said.
She required three ‘A’s to guarantee a place at King’s. She found out via her mother Julie that her grades were sufficient to secure her university spot. “It was a little bit nerve-wracking. I was probably more nervous for my exam results, absolutely petrified of not getting into uni,” said Asher-Smith, whose phone signal failed as she tried to log on to the UCAS website to find out her educational outcome and had to turn to her mum instead. “She texted me and I was like ‘yippee’. It was about 20 minutes before I went to warm up so it was pretty close. It’s quite a boost and I’m so happy.”
Britain’s best bet for a medal in the final is Jodie Williams, the Commonwealth silver medallist, while Bianca Williams will also line up in the final. In the men’s semi-finals, Adam Gemili is now favourite to add to his Commonwealth 100m silver with gold in the 200m at the Europeans.
Two of the stars of Glasgow, the 400m hurdler Eilidh Child and 800m specialist Lynsey Sharp, were also back on track and both are in a strong position to add to Britain’s gold-medal tally when they compete in their respective finals on Saturday.
Sharp had been embroiled in a Twitter spat with Andy Vernon, a silver medallist behind Mo Farah in the 10,000m, prior to these championships, Vernon accusing her of flaunting her Commonwealth silver too much when the Scot tweeted plans to buy a Chanel handbag to celebrate.After Vernon’s silver, a photoshopped tweet showed him running with a Chanel bag, and Sharp said: “We’ve had a bit of a laugh about it.”
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