Dina Asher-Smith has called for more funding to help sportswomen tackle the physical effects of their period, insisting that there would be “a million different ways to combat things” if it was an issue suffered by men.
Speaking after blasting her way to a dominant European Championships 200 metres semi-final win, Asher-Smith revealed the cramp in both calves that ruined her 100m final on Tuesday night was caused by “girl stuff”.
“It is something I think that more people need to actually research from a sports science perspective because it is absolutely huge,” said Asher-Smith. “Women don’t talk about it either. Sometimes we see girls that have been so consistent have a random dip.
“Behind the scenes they are really struggling, while everyone is thinking: ‘What’s that? That’s random?’
“We just need more funding. I feel like if it was a men’s issue there would be a million different ways to combat things. But with women there just needs to be more funding in that area.”
Asher-Smith trailed a distant last in Tuesday’s 100m final when she suffered cramp in her calves and slowed to a jog halfway through the race, before walking over the finish line.
Asked on Thursday night whether she had ascertained any reason for the cramp, she said: “Yeah. Girl stuff… issues.
“It’s really frustrating. It is a shame because I am in really good shape. I was really looking to come and run fast here, but that is sometimes not the way that everything is planned out.”
It has been a season of highs and lows for Asher-Smith, who claimed world 200m bronze before missing the Commonwealth Games earlier this month in a bid to recover from a hamstring injury suffered during the world 4x100m final.
With the 100m now gone, she looks on track to retain her European 200m crown after running through the rain to win her semi-final in 22.53 seconds.
“I ran a [100m] PB a few weeks ago so I feel my confidence is really fine,” she said. “I just want to come out here and retain my European title, so my aim was to qualify and then run fast in the final tomorrow.”
Britain’s medal tally received a hefty boost on Thursday with Jake Heyward claiming a brilliant 1,500m silver, Eilish McColgan adding her fourth medal of the summer with 5,000m bronze and Jazmin Sawyers winning a last-ditch long jump bronze.
Faced with unparalleled strength in depth at national level over 1,500m, Heyward did not even qualify for last month’s World Championships after finishing a narrow fourth at the British Championships.
Disappointed not to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games, he shrugged off illness this week to produce the race of his life and chase home Norway’s Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen, claiming silver in 3:34.44. Ingebrigtsen triumphed in a championship record 3:32.76.
“I am disappointed that I couldn’t go with him [Jakob] and push him for the gold,” said Heyward. “On Monday I was ill, and I’ve got better in the last 72 hours but I still wasn’t right today.
“You just know as an athlete where your body is at. It’s disappointing because I genuinely think I’m at the level to push Jakob. It’s nice to come away with something but unless it’s gold, I’m not happy.”
Three days after winning European 10,000m silver, McColgan added yet another medal to her extraordinary haul won this month that also includes Commonwealth 10,000m gold and 5,000m silver.
With Germany’s home favourite Konstanze Klosterhalfen reeling in Turkey’s Yasemin Can in the closing stages to win gold in 14:50.47, McColgan took bronze in 14:59.34.
“I came into this year with one outdoor medal and I’ve just added four,” said McColgan. “I can’t even describe what that means. I’m really, really proud of myself.”
Sat in fourth place for almost the entire long jump competition after her opening 6.69m effort, Sawyers flew out to 6.80m with her final jump of the competition to snatch bronze at the death. Serbia’s Ivana Vuleta won gold in 7.06m.
“I kept getting it wrong, but I knew I had it in me,” said Sawyers. “I was standing on the top of the runway thinking: ‘You cannot leave here without a medal’. The 6.80m comes up, I lose my mind. I am so happy.”