You might think Britain’s fastest ever woman would be fond of sprinting around the capital, but Dina Asher-Smith, who is representing Great Britain at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, is pretty fond of one particular part of London’s transport network.
The 25-year-old, who has won medals at the Olympics, Commonwealth Games, Diamond League and World Championships, hails from Orpington, in South East London – not Kent, as she insisted to West London DJ and presenter Clara Amfo on her podcast ‘This City’.
“Look, we’ve got red buses ok! So, it’s London,” the star said.
She has a particular connection to the Southeastern trains which serve the area. Whilst juggling her academic and athletic careers, she used the train to travel between her home in the borough of Bromley, her university next to Charing Cross and her Blackheath and Bromley athletics training facilities.
READ MORE: The London bus route so long it can take more than two hours to reach its destination
She’s currently in Tokyo at the Olympics
(Image: Martin Rickett/PA Wire)
From 2014 to 2017, the Olympian attended King’s College London (KCL) at the Strand Campus. She graduated with a 2:1 History Bachelor’s degree within weeks of winning a silver medal in the 4x100m relay at the World Championships in London.
She told Clara Amfo: “I used to commute. Orpington to Charing Cross or even Waterloo is like 25 minutes, so it’s really not that deep!”
She explained that KCL was integral to her success because the small number of in-person lectures (no more than eight hours per week) allowed her to commute easily and still commit to her athletics.
“I was just reading, head down on the train […] I’d wake up if it’s Monday, Wednesday or Friday, do gym in the morning and then go into uni or if uni classes were early do uni and then gym,” she said.
“Either way I’d do a full day at uni and then come home and train in the evening, so busy! Non-stop!”
The journey was so quick, she taught herself to speed read whilst preparing for her lectures on the train. “I only had time to do one reading and then I’d look up and I was at Charing Cross,” Asher-Smith said.
Unlike many South East Londoners who miss the last train back to the suburbs, she has never been on a night bus though. “I dunno if that’s something I should be missing though. I hear bad stories!”
“I would say that a London night bus is a rite of passage for everyone,” Clara Amfo replied chuckling.
In 2018 as Asher-Smith’s career continued to shine, Joanne Russell, a ticket office employee at Southeastern, suggested to her bosses that one of the company’s high speed trains should be named after her. She recalled helping a 14-year-old Asher-Smith and her mother buy tickets to an athletics event in Birmingham she was competing in.
Russell’s idea was accepted and the one-time Southeastern commuter got her name on a Southeastern train. The Dina Asher-Smith Javelin train (officially known as train 395014, a reference to her encounter with Southeastern’s Russell aged 14) currently runs on high speed services between St Pancras International, Stratford International (where the 2012 Olympics were held) and Kent.
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In the podcast episode she also makes a fleeting reference to Hither Green station.
She said: “Cool Breeze in Hither Green. If you know, you know […] it’s around the corner near where my grandma lives […] their Caribbean food is amazing.
“It’s near Hither Green Station so you can just hop off and then just go there.
“I’ve been going there since I was so young… I know people from West [London] that have got food from Cool Breeze and go back to West!”
Undoubtedly like Asher-Smith, they might just be taking the Southeastern train too.
Have you spotted the Dina Asher-Smith train? Do you have any fond memories set on your local trainline? Let us know in the comments below!