Asha Philip: A personal appreciation by J. Stuart Weir


Philip_AshaQ-Sopot14.jpgAsha Philip, Sopot 2014, what a difference two years makes! photo by

Asha Philip stayed poised and in control of her emotions before the start of the 60 meters. With all of the challenges she has had, Asha Philip put everything together, at the right moment. And for Asha, the right moment was in Belgrade, Serbia.

Stuart Weir makes me smile. I see him at major championships and when I am allowed out of North America. His life long viewing of the sport comes into play, as this article about the new gold medalist, an athlete who had made 4th places her near permanent position.

Asha Philip: A personal appreciation.
I first met Asha Philip at the World Indoors in Istanbul in 2012. Since then I have been privileged to follow her career closely seeing her run in World, European and Commonwealth events - in Brazil, China, Russia (twice), Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland and USA plus other places that I can't even recall.
In July 2007, Philip won the World Youth gold in the 100 metres, but shortly after this she suffered a serious cruciate ligament injury while representing Great Britain in her other elite level sport - trampoline. She was competing at the double-mini team event at the senior Trampoline World Championships in Canada. The injury halted her sporting career for three years. The guts and courage with which she rehab-ed are worth a medal in themselves.
Over the next few years she proved to be a consistent performer indoor and out but someone never quite made the podium in an individual event. She was 4th in the 2014 Commonwealth Games, 4th 2016 European Championships, 4th in the 2014 World Indoors plus two fifth placings (2013 European Indoors and 2016 World Indoors) but the medal would not come.
All that changed in the Kombank Arena in Belgrade this afternoon when Asha followed a semi-final win with a storming run to take her first gold medal in a European leading time of 7.06 with Olesya Povh of Ukraine seond. Asha is a gold medallist and the fastest woman in Europe.
She said afterwards: "I was so happy. The European lead was a bonus and the PB was a bonus - obviously I came out here for the win and I got that! There is always that scare factor when they come and you cross the line - I heard my name, but you don't believe it until you actually see it!
This competition I've not been petrified - I've been so calm and had the confidence in me to say 'I can do it, I will do it'... and I've just believed in myself.
Asha has had her detractors - she is too heavy, not committed enough, etc, etc. Today she proved them all wrong. The girl who came back from that horrendous injury, who left her comfort zone in East London to go and live in Loughborough, who changed coaches from Christine Bowmaker to Steve Fudge - TODAY THE GIRL GOT HER REWARD!
In her spare time she collects relay medals. Olympic bronze, European Championships gold and silver, Commonwealth Games bronze, World Relays silver and bronze - and she has only been running relays for three years. She has played a bit part in turning the GB relay team which did not even qualify for London 2012 into serial medal winners, making the lead off leg her own.
And she is a super nice girl. Nice guys and girls don't always come last. Sometimes they win the gold medals!

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