PAULA RADCLIFFE: I’m in awe of how Dina Asher-Smith kept her hamstring injury quiet before it wrecked her Games… her interview after was brave but crushing, and I know how hard Olympic heartbreak is to take
- Dina Asher-Smith’s Tokyo Olympics was wrecked by a hamstring injury
- She kept it quiet in the build-up but had to pull out of the 200m event
- It’s a brutal heartbreak but she deserves admiration for how she handled it
What we saw on Saturday was completely devastating for Dina Asher-Smith. You could see it on her face in those brave interviews – it is absolutely crushing and I can really relate to how she is feeling right now.
I went to Athens in 2004 with a huge amount of external expectation but I knew I was carrying a leg injury, and that has happened again for Dina. I am in awe of how she was able to keep it quiet — from everything she was saying in the media in the build-up she had me convinced the hamstring problem was fixed.
In that scenario you are just desperate to keep the information away from your rivals, while at the same time doing everything possible to make the best of a terrible situation, and do the best that you can.
Dina Asher-Smith was forced to pull out of the 200m in Tokyo with her hamstring injury
The Team GB captain was in tears as she was forced to end her Olympic dream in Japan
Inside you know the odds aren’t with you, but you just have to do absolutely all you can to get to that start line because it is the Olympic Games. I just couldn’t let the Games pass me by without knowing a concrete answer on whether I could still pull off a miracle. I can’t bear ‘what if’ — I had to try.
I ran the marathon, ran out of fuel, hit the proverbial ‘wall’ and could not finish.
Ultimately, it wasn’t the actual leg injury that stopped me — I could have run through the pain — but it was the effect of the treatments that meant my glycogen stores ran out. My body simply couldn’t carry on, no matter how much my mind wanted to. By contrast, in the 10,000m it was my decision to pull out.
I had to fight for my chance to start that race and to this day I do not regret it. I had to know. I couldn’t watch from the stands and wonder whether I could salvage something; I got the answer when I was running and stepped off. I knew I had tried.
For Paula Radcliffe it’s a reminder of her devastating 2004 Olympic marathon, when she was forced to pull out mid-race due to her leg injury
Asher-Smith failed to qualify for the 100m women’s final as she gave it a go despite her injuries
I really applaud and admire Dina and her team for leaving no stone unturned and trying against the odds. It’s testament to her character and talent.
Alas, at this level there is no room for several weeks lost so close to the race, even when you are in the form of your life prior to the injury. But she will be back to race again and, next time, hopefully luck is with her.
What happens next is important. For me, I probably let the desire for an Olympic medal become too much of a focus. I let the Games become too big a deal and I pushed too hard and broke down again in 2008.
Dina needs to grieve and then move on with excitement to the defence of her world title and, from there, on to the 2024 Olympics in Paris.