2019 British Athletics Diary: SJA Awards...Dina Asher Smith is SJA Sportswomen of the Year...


AH_17252_20191002104710906_20191002105424.JPGDina Asher Smith, photo by Getty Images/ British Athletics

AH_27230_20191002104129860_20191002105126.JPGDina Asher Smith, photo by Getty Images/ British Athletics

SJA Awards

Athletics was well represented at the UK Sports Journalists' Association Annual awards. The event was first staged in 1949 making it the oldest sports awards in Britain.

Winners were

Sportswoman of the Year: Dina Asher-Smith

  • SJA Bill McGowran Trophy for achievement in para sport: Aled Davies MBE (para athletics) & Alice Tai (para swimming)
  • SJA Pat Besford Award for outstanding performance of the year: Katarina Johnson-Thompson
  • SJA President's Award: John Blackie

In interesting aspect of the day arose from Dina Asher-Smith and her coach, John Blackie, both receiving awards. Dina said of her coach: "I owe just about everything to John. I am really happy he got the award. To be honest, my mum and I were a bit emotional at the table. John is an amazing man, an amazing human being, so intelligent and so patient with me. Rain or shine he's always at the track, committed to getting the best out of his athletes. And there's no bias. He's proud of what I did at the world championships but equally proud of someone who's gone to the English schools and got a PR or just performed really well. It means a lot to see a volunteer coach recognized".

Blackie took the opportunity to comment of Dina's attire, saying: "I don't know what she's got on her feet [heels] but we need to get rid of those because she will be training tonight and I don't want are falling over!" Having worked with Dina since she was in elementary school, he sees her as family: "I regard Julie [Dina's mum] as my sister. We are quite close and that can have its drawbacks, particularly when I see the kind of stuff that Dina wears to some of these events - not just on her feet. And I do tell her off about that occasionally. If we weren't family, I wouldn't do that".

Of his award, Blackie said: "I'm very humbled to get an award in such company. Volunteer coaches are very important but they don't often get the recognition so I'm happy to be their spokesman".

Dina and John also revealed a little about how the partnership worked in relation to championships.

Dina: "It is a team effort and that's just the name of the game. John and I and the wider team always focus on being the fastest we can at a championship - that may sound very boring but in track and field it doesn't always happen that you manage to produce a PB when it really matters. But achieving our first world title is really special". She added that Christine Ohuruogu is also an influence: "Chrissy was texting me during the world championships. She is a good stabilising force because you remember when she was competing, she was always so composed as a person and as an athlete. My favourite athletics highlight is watching her winning races right at the end by a few hundredths. She is very wise and she brings that to me. It's really cool that she was one of my idols and now she's texting me".

John Blackie: "As a coach you can't get too involved on race day. We do things normally. She has to race in a normal fashion. I try to stay clear as much as is reasonable. We do talk beforehand. Sometimes about her hair but not much about the race because we don't need to".

Dina: "Or about which eye-shadow to wear!"

Asked about Tokyo, both clearly have their feet firmly on the ground.

Dina: Everyone loves to say that Tokyo will be easy after what I did in Doha but it's easier said than done. It's a long way off. I still have a lot of training. Things can happen. I got to make the team so it's all about working hard".

John: "First, she has to make the team".

For all her success Dina maintains the "girl next door" look while John represents the 100s of volunteer coaches without whom our sport would not survive.

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