Dina Asher-Smith is adamant she is not famous. “I’m not,” she insists, laughing as always. “I can get on the Tube [in London] fine. Of course I get on the Tube. How else am I going to get around? I get recognised now and again, but not really if I have my headphones in. That’s my barometer. I can get on public transport with no problem.”
Few British track and field athletes ever break through to mainstream fame. There are Jessica Ennis-Hill, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford, the trio propelled to celebrity status by the London 2012 wave. But over the last decade that is about it, until now. For as much as Asher-Smith denies it, she is creeping closer to joining that list.
In what was meant to be a quiet season in athletics circles with an absence of global events, Asher-Smith took a giant stride towards embedding herself in the top tier of the sprinting elite.
In winning three titles (100m, 200m and 4x100m) at the same European Championships she made history as the first British athlete to complete such a treble. She ended the season top of the world rankings for both individual sprint distances, was unsurprisingly crowned women’s European Athlete of the Year and is a nominee for the BT Sport Action Woman award.
It all meant that rather than her usual quiet, relaxing off-season – she jokes that the most strenuous activity she does is touch her toes in the shower – the six-week period in September and October was as hectic as what had come before it.
There were dozens of interviews from areas of the media that would never normally concern themselves with the exploits of a runner; she was given a spot on The Jonathan Ross Show sofa alongside the likes of actor David Mitchell and comedian Keith Lemon; she had a Southeastern train named after her; and there was a stint walking on the Paris Fashion Week runway in front of superstar guests including model Cara Delevingne and Brazil footballer Neymar.