Britain’s fastest woman and Olympic hopeful Asher-Smith urges volunteers to take up Games Maker baton

Less than 40 days remain before sprinter Dina Asher-Smith can realise her childhood dream of appearing at an Olympic Games.

Before then, however, comes the European Championships with Britain’s fastest woman aiming to use the competition in Amsterdam next week as the ideal dry run ahead of bidding for glory at Rio 2016.

Asher-Smith was this week named among a bumper 98-strong British Athletics team who will compete in the Netherlands between July 6-10.

But while the likes of reigning European champion Jo Pavey are still sweating on their Rio place, Asher-Smith can head there with the pressure to make the Olympic squad firmly off following her 200m title at the British Championships in Birmingham last Sunday.

It’s the latest success for the 20-year-old, whose blossoming career exploded into life last year when she became the fiDamerst ever British woman to dip under 11 seconds over 100m, as well as setting a new British record of 22.07 on the way to fifth at the World Championships in Beijing in the 200m.

No longer can she slide under the radar on the international stage but Asher-Smith – who was inspired to chase her Olympic dream after watching both Dame Kelly Holmes complete the middle distance double, and the men’s 4x100m relay team take gold, at Athens 2004 – is more than happy to now be in the spotlight.

“It is so amazing to know that I’m going to be an Olympian, it’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was eight years old. It’s so special,” she said.

“It is going to have to be a personal best from me to get a medal. These girls are running really quickly already.  But it’s great having hit the selection criteria as it gives me a chance to prepare properly.

“The European Championships is a great spectacle. Any other year it would be the focus of my season.

“But because it is an Olympic year it is very much a stepping stone to Rio but it’s also going to be a great high calibre competition.

“It is a unique opportunity for me to go through the rounds and have that practice of a Championships before the Olympics. There are not many other big Championships around the world before the Olympics where you can test yourself against such a field.

“I’m looking to pick up on small technical points, making sure I run a good bend and hold my form to the end of the line. These little things you work on should really pay dividends when I get to Rio.”

A lot can happen in four years – something Asher-Smith is well aware of having been a Games Maker volunteer at the last Olympics in London in 2012 before her sprinting took off.

Next year should see her return to the same Olympic Stadium as a competitor when the 2017 World Championships take centre stage.

And the sprinter urged others to get involved and take up the volunteering baton.

“The volunteers at 2017 will get an awful lot of the experience,” she added.

“I was fortunate enough to be a volunteer at London 2012 and that is something that will stay with me forever and hopefully it will be the same for them too.

“I would not be where I am if it wasn’t for the help of volunteers. I’ve been involved with athletics from grassroots level all the way up to the Olympics touch wood this summer.

“I’ve done the whole spectrum and from day one it has been the people who have given up their time freely – the officials, the coaches – who have been invaluable.

“As a volunteer you feel like you are part of their journey and when they do well, it’s great because you feel a part of their journey.”

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