After leaving in 2014, on the 21st March I was delighted to be able to invite Dina Asher-Smith back to her secondary school to be interviewed about the school and her current career, holding the title for European champion of 100m and 200m women’s sprinting. She began running at 8 but only began to take her athletics seriously at 13 and got her first Nike endorsement at 16. Dina was thrilled to be back, having not visited since 2015, and spent lots of time reminiscing about her memories and catching up with old teachers!

She told us: 

‘I’ve got so many fond memories of here and it’s really been humbling …. when I’m training I think about the next race and how to be the best athlete... when you come back you forget how many people are proud of you.’ 

 When asked about the role the school played in her sporting, Dina told us: 

‘Definitely my mindset, which is everything in sports... you can have all the talent in the world but if you can’t handle yourself under pressure or don’t have the drive or determination you’ll just not do very well. But in this environment where there are still values of hard work and being confident and yourself and nobody will judge you, the weird thing is that everybody has their own talent, so I wasn’t special which keeps you very humble and keeps you working hard.’ 

Dina told us about handling work and sport: 

‘I wanted to do well academically and in sport so I did put pressure on myself, but honestly I think what you go through you grow through... because whenever you're stressed you still go to sleep and wake up, and you’ve done it. This has always given me the view that I do need some balance but also I know that it might be stressful now but soon it will all be fine. Have confidence in yourself.’ 

Reflecting on International Women’s Day, Dina opened up about her female inspirations: 

‘At the moment Serena Williams, she’s awesome, Emma Watson, she’s so empowering and amazing.’ 

Dina also explained her views on tackling nerves, inspirational words to us all: 

‘In races I no longer get nervous because I believe in myself and I know I’m in control, in all honesty this is what exams taught me. Olympic finals are like GCSEs! If you haven’t done the training, you won’t win! But if I have, I know I’ll be fine and I will do the best that I can. There’s no need to be nervous.’ 

‘First and foremost, always be yourself, stay true to who you are, do everything with the best intentions because being a good person trumps everything. So number one, be nice and number two enjoy it, have fun and don’t force it.’ 

Dina’s parting message is one that every Newstead pupil can carry with them as they try to follow in her footsteps: love what you do and always strive to be better!