World 200m champion Dina Asher-Smith says she was “relieved” when the 2020 Olympics was postponed and feels the rejigged calendar presents athletics with significant opportunities.
The British sprinter was a medal hope at the Tokyo Games, which moved to 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
World Championships will follow in 2022 and 2023, before the 2024 Olympics.
“We have never had a period where we have four global events back to back,” Asher-Smith told Eddie Hearn’s podcast.
Speaking on BBC Sounds’ No Passion No Point podcast, the 24-year-old added: “I think athletics, especially in the UK, has an opportunity in this period. In terms of the long-term future of athletics, weirdly I think as a sport it has one of the biggest opportunities because of the reshuffle.”
In the aftermath of winning World Championship silver over 100m and her 200m gold in 2019, four-time Olympic champion Michael Johnson said other athletes would “have Dina Asher-Smith in mind” as they prepared for the Tokyo Games.
Asher-Smith said: “When it was postponed I remember weirdly feeling personally relieved. That sounds strange for an athlete to say but I remember that day it was postponed, all gyms were shut, tracks were shut, I had no access to physios, no access for biomechanics and I had no idea of how I would train to an Olympic standard from inside my flat. In the weirdest sense I was relieved.
“I’m personally OK with it being postponed; one, because of the circumstances and, two, because as a team it has given us the luxury to step back and say now we have more time.”
Hearn’s podcast seeks to explore the mindset of successful people in their field and Asher-Smith opened up about the influence of her parents and her own use of kaizen – a Japanese concept which focuses on continuous improvement.
The former world Junior champion says she has incorporated kaizen into the training that has seen her become the fastest British woman in history over 100m and 200m.
“If you don’t know the first three steps of the Olympic final, you can kiss it goodbye,” she added.
“It’s a very honest sport. If you haven’t been training, eating the right food or lifting the right weights, or if your mind is not in it, there is nowhere to hide. You will be exposed, it will be seen and the consequences will not be good.”