She had swapped her spikes for warmer high tops, her sprint suit for a thick down jacket. But British sprinter and Team Galaxy athlete Dina Asher-Smith remained in her element as she shared her athletic journey at the Youth Olympic Village on Sunday.
The 24-year-old spoke in front of a sizeable group of athletes competing at the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games and dispensed both advice and encouragement to the young hopefuls.
“Enjoy it and believe in yourself. I have surpassed what the 14-year-old me thought I could do,” said Asher-Smith, a bronze medallist in the 4x100m relay at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and Samsung Team Galaxy athlete.
“Don’t impose limits on yourself. Your brain might think one thing, but your body might be able to do something else. Just go for it.”
She claims she stumbled into track and field “by absolute accident”, yet the new darling of British athletics is living proof of what happens when talent meets hard work. She encouraged the young athletes to dream big, but also to make the right choices.
Asher-Smith is the fastest British woman in history and last October became world champion in the 200m, the first British woman to win a world or Olympic sprint title.
Results like that demand dedication, but also discipline.
“I’d love to be out and do every fun thing people my age are doing,” she said. “But at the same time, I know I made the choice and I’m dedicating myself to be the athlete I want to be.
“I love it, and I’m good at it. And if I’m successful my life will be better than it ever would’ve been if I was out partying. I just look at sacrifices as a choice. If (something is) not conducive to my absolute goal, then it’s not that necessary.”
That discernment also translates to nutrition for Asher-Smith, who trains six days a week.
“I think of my body as a machine,” she said. “I make sure what I put in is conducive to what kind of energy release I need. I make sure that what goes in is completely necessary - no waste, and of the best quality possible.”
And she had one last tip for the athletes in attendance.
“What we do (as athletes) is serious, but have fun, and enjoy it. I have so much fun,” the sprinter said.
Asher-Smith was speaking at a Chat with Champions event in collaboration with worldwide Olympic partner Samsung. The series of talks is one of the educational initiatives of the YOG where young athletes get up close with champions.
Being metres away from one of Team GB’s biggest stars was surreal for Ross Craik (GBR).
“For them to come and speak to people like us, younger athletes developing into possibly one of the greater athletes like them, it’s just really inspiring and great to see,” the 15-year-old curler said. “She’s somebody you can look up to, and it inspires you to want to push forward in your sport.”