This is a well-done piece by Stuart Weir on Dina Asher-Smith changing coaches after 19 years. Dina Asher-Smith is always thoughtful and takes time with the media. Your editor met with Dina in Doha DL in 2023 and enjoyed our conversation.
Thanks to Stuart Weir, who also showed how classy Dina was in recognizing the long contribution that John Blackie made to this fine athlete.
Dina Asher-Smith has a new coach.
Dina Asher-Smith will be coached by Edrick Floreal in Austin, Texas. She has split from John Blackie who has coached her all her life so far.
In a statement, she said:
“After 19 years, John Blackie and I have ended our coach-athlete partnership. My life changed by meeting him, and I will be forever grateful to him. His intellect, patience, and dedication has taken me from an energetic eight-year-old to a World Champion, with over 20 international medals and many Olympic, World, Commonwealth, and European finals.
“John and I will, of course, remain close friends. Thank you to John, and thank you to all of my team in London, whose talents and hard work has helped me realize so many dreams to date. My next chapter will be led by Edrick Floreal out of Austin, Texas. I’m very excited to join his talented training group as we head to Paris 2024.
“Sending lots of love. D”
I would never claim to know Dina well, but I have seen her run more than 140 times, including all her championship appearances, and have spoken to her 20-30 times after races. I see this move as a brave and very sensible decision.
DOHA, QATAR – OCTOBER 02: Dina Asher-Smith of Great Britain celebrates after winning gold in the Women’s 200 metres final during day six of 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 at Khalifa International Stadium on October 02, 2019 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images for IAAF)
British athletes tend to change coaches less than American athletes do. That said, for John Blackie to have taken Dina from a novice eight-year-old to the 2019 World 200m champion is remarkable and possibly unique.
In 2019, at the World Championships in Doha, Dina won the 200m in 21.88 and came second behind Shelly-Ann in the 100m in 10.83. She had proved herself as absolutely world-class. Then came the pandemic, and we lost the 2020 season. In the postponed Tokyo Olympics, she struggled with injury, coming third in the 100m semi-final but not making the final. Did not run in the 200 but was able to take a bronze medal in the 4 by 100 relay.
Dina Asher-Smith, photo by Getty Images for British Athletics
In the World Championships in Oregon 2022, she was fourth in the 100m (10.83) and third in the 200m (22.02). She went into the 2022 European Championships as defending champion in the 100m and 200m, finishing eighth and second.
In the 2023 season, she ran 18 outdoor races, and your correspondent saw 17 of them. She was seventh and eighth in the world championship. She ran seven Diamond League races, not winning any of them. Something wasn’t quite right, making it a really frustrating year for her.
I would like to acknowledge that despite the frustrations and disappointments, Dina took the time to speak to me at all the Diamond League races. And I am sure that on several of those occasions, after a frustrating race, speaking to me was the last thing she wanted to do! Even in Florence, where she had to withdraw due to cramp in the warm-up, she stopped to explain it all to me. A real professional and an athlete who understands that athletics writers have a job to do.
This is what Dina said to me at the five Diamond Leagues at which I spoke to her this summer:
Doha 100m 3rd 10.98
“The whole point about my season is to race against the best, and I did that tonight. I am really happy with my race. Third place is a good start, and the time is decent. But I think I’m in a better place than that, and I think there’s better to come. It’s a good opener, and on to the next one”.
Paris: 200m 4th 22.57
“I’m a bit disappointed. I came here to win today, and that didn’t happen. I am in much better shape than that. I just need to talk to my coach, and I’m sure he’ll tell me what happened. That is why we run these races. You focus and come out to run against the best in the world and put together the best race you can”.
Oslo: 100m 2nd 10.98
“It was OK. I was hoping for a bit of a quicker time today as I think I’m in better shape, but sometimes that does not happen. I’m happy to have done alright in a field like that, a really stacked field. That’s good. Maybe my start could have been a little bit better, but we’re banging out races just now. It’s all good. We’re going to go into the next training block and then come out again hoping to run faster, but you know it’s all good – I’m happy, I’m healthy”.
Dina Asher-Smith, 100m, Muller, Brit Champs 2022 , photo by Getty Images for British Athletics
Stockholm: 200m 4th 22.58
“It was all right, but I would rather have won – but it is what it is. I was hoping for a quicker time today as well. I am definitely in good shape. I made a few mistakes in the 200m in Paris, but this one was much better. I just think that it was worth a quicker time, but with the weather and the conditions, it is what it is, and you gotta roll with it”.
Brussels: 100m 3rd 10.97
“It was a bit of a frustrating season for me. I started really well, and I ran 10.85 in London, which was special for me. I felt really confident about the World Championships, but unfortunately, I didn´t deliver there. But that´s how it goes. I was really keen on finishing this season at a high level, and I´m really satisfied with the result today. I know that I´m in a good place”.
Dina is always seems good at putting races in perspective and focusing on the bigger goal. But at the end of a difficult season, she knew she had to do something and had made a big and brave decision. I am sure it is the right one. John Blackie has done a brilliant job bringing her to where she is, but a change of scene and personnel with give her a new impetus.
Dina has become something of a celebrity in the UK with a front cover on Vogue magazine, regular TV appearances, at one stage,
Dina Asher-Smith on British Vogue
a column in the Daily Telegraph. Going to Austin, where she will “just” be an athlete, may be exactly what she needs to move to the next level. We can expect a strong performance in the Paris Olympics.