British Olympic sprinter Dina Asher-Smith has said she believes “showing your vulnerability is so important,” when it comes to competing in sport.
Asher-Smith, the fastest British woman on record, broke down in tears during a TV interview after failing to qualify for the 200 metre finals at the Olympics in 2021 due to an injury.
Speaking to Harper’s Bazaar about the experience, Asher-Smith said: “Normally, I’m quite calm and composed, and I work very hard at it, but that showed me in a new light.
“I welcome it – I think showing your vulnerability is so important. But I can’t watch it, because I don’t like seeing myself cry.”
Asher-Smith features in the magazine’s July issue as part of a portfolio of female strength.
She also opened up about the difficulties that come with being a female athlete given the male bias that exists in the sporting world.
“Sport is an incredibly male-driven and male-dominated environment, and conceptualised with men at the centre,” she said.
“Even talking about periods is taboo – people think you’re making excuses, without fully understanding that for some women, this can literally define whether they can run as normal or not.”
In addition to the physical difficulties she has encountered during her career so far, Asher-Smith spoke openly about the importance of maintaining good mental strength – citing it as the “entire foundation” of her success.
She said: “It’s tenacity, the ability to believe in yourself, although the odds may be stacked against you.
“You could be on amazing form, but if you have any chinks in your mental armour, then the race won’t go the way you plan.
“For me, mental strength isn’t the cherry on top of my fitness, it’s the entire foundation of what I do.”
MP Stella Creasy also features in the special issue of the magazine and spoke about the difficulties she has faced as a female politician.
While discussing her swift return to work after the birth of her child, Creasy, 45, who brought her newborn son into the House of Commons last November, said: “There was a practical reason why I brought my son [to Parliament], which is that I didn’t have proper maternity cover.
“For me, it’s not an option to tell my constituents that for six months they have no voice, no issues I can take forward.”
Adding: “I was on the phone to ministers less than 24 hours after giving birth because we had hundreds of Walthamstow residents affected by the Afghanistan crisis.
“I’m not going to say to someone cowering in fear from the Taliban, sorry, I’ve had a baby so your family doesn’t matter. It’s an impossible situation.”
Creasy also questioned why mothers are often overlooked or treated differently at work because they have children, when there could be much undiscovered “talent” as a result.
“There’s no other environment where we just accept that something should be difficult,” she said.
Adding: “Why not try to make things easier, because who knows what talent we might unearth?”
The July/August issue of Harper’s Bazaar UK is on sale from June 8.