Sprinter Dina Asher-Smith will bounce back stronger than ever for Paris 2024, that’s according to Sally Gunnell, after the European champion withdrew from the Olympic individual events.
Asher-Smith, 25, admitted after her 100m semi-final performance, where she failed to qualify, that she had recently picked up a hamstring injury just weeks before the Games, and was also going to have to miss the 200m.
The British record holder may still compete in the 4x100m relay on Thursday and Gunnell remains confident that Asher-Smith could be the difference on the podium.
The 1992 gold medallist said: “If we have Dina, that’ll probably be the difference between winning a gold and winning a silver and it would be really great if she’s back for the relay.
“Someone like Dina, she’s still an amazing role model for so many young kids and she’s got such a personality.
“The next Olympics is three years’ time so she’ll be back and be stronger and mentally more prepared for it.
“She inspires so many people – all of us as well. She’s probably the best role model you could ever have, whoever you are, whatever your background.
“I think we’re lucky to have her for sure and she’ll be there and carrying on for many years to inspire people, on and off the track.”
Asher-Smith is not the only GB athlete who has suffered from injuries at this year’s Olympic Games, with Adam Gemili pulling up in his 200m heats this morning.
Gemili, 27, was aiming to try and better his fourth-place finish from Rio five years ago, where he missed out on the bronze medal by three thousandths of a second.
Katarina Johnson-Thompson has also been suffering with an Achilles injury in the run-up to the postponed Games in Tokyo, and tomorrow takes to the start of the heptathlon, where she will be hoping to match her gold medal-winning performance at the 2019 World Championships.
Gunnell added: “We haven’t had much luck for Team GB, what with Dina and the injury she’s had, and Adam last night pulling his hamstring.
“It’s been really sad to see them both struggle with injuries, but they will come back stronger for Paris.
“Kat after having that Achilles problem, and she was in great shape last year, it is such a shame, but we’ll see what she can manage. If she’s back to her normal self, she will be in the running for a medal.
“Sometimes we have new superstars coming through and we shouldn’t always rely on the old ones, as shown in the women’s 800m today with Keely Hodgkinson winning the silver.
“We’ve done really well at the European Juniors and Keely is still only 19-years-old.
“That’s why things like the National Lottery money and the support and the funding they get is so key at this young age to keep them on track and in the system and being supported so they can train to how they need to and have the support around them.”
National Lottery players provide vital support to elite athletes who are competing in Tokyo but also a wide variety of community activities to get more people into athletics.
If you’ve been inspired by Team GB and want to get involved, visit www.iamteamgb.com and for more information on how to get involved in athletics, visit https://www.britishathletics.org.uk/get-involved/