Dina Asher-Smith’s fellow runners have praised her for breaking the “massive taboo” around sports periods and urged the government and sports bodies to invest much more in research to tackle the problem.
Speaking after Britain’s women’s 4x100m relay qualified fastest for Saturday’s final, Imani-Lara Lansiquot bravely revealed she was on her period in Munich, to the surprise of her team-mates.
The sprinter then questioned why more money wasn’t being put into research to help combat the effects of the menstrual cycle.
“One hundred percent there should be more funding,” Lansiquot said. “I still think it’s pretty shocking that it’s taboo. I’m going through it right now. I’m sure we’ve all been through it at some point, but we haven’t said anything to each other yet because it feels like a massive taboo that isn’t talked about.”
Lansiquot also noted that it wasn’t as easy as popping the pill. “The side effects of all the drugs you can take are still really unknown,” he said. “I would love in five to 10 years if this wasn’t a silent conversation and it was something that could be talked about and conquered instead of being run from.”
Ashleigh Nelson, also a member of the relay team who has been part of the Great Britain team since the Beijing Olympics, was another to speak. “If this was a man’s problem, we would deal with it,” he said.
“It is very difficult that once a month you have to plan your training, your diet, your life around having your period. There are things you can take to delay your period, but they also have side effects so you’re in a Catch-22. You can’t win. But it’s part of being a woman and many of us take it very well.”
The women are heavy favorites on Saturday, with Asha Philip praising the team’s unity. “This summer, we’ve seen each other more than anyone else and we’ve formed such a great bond,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what team you play, it doesn’t matter who plays which leg, we’re going to stand out.”
The men’s 4x100m team believe they will also win gold despite the absence of Reece Prescod, who has decided to go home. And Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, the veteran of the squad, praised how youngsters like Jeremiah Azu, Tommy Ramdhan and Jona Efoloko have integrated seamlessly.
“It says a lot about our philosophy,” he said. “We have worked hard on how we do our business. If you look at some of the best football clubs, Ajax and the former Manchester United, they talk about the philosophy of bringing the youngsters through and if you’re good enough, you’re old enough.
“I was one of those in the early days. I’ve seen different kinds of things. My first senior relay team was in 2006, with medals in 2009.
“The toxicity is gone. We have a lot of progressive mindsets. We have a lot of kind souls in the group who all want to progress well.” When Aikines-Aryeetey was told he was the Sir Alex Ferguson figure in the team, he laughed and pointed to his team-mates. “Yeah, but you’ll have to ask them,” to which Efoloko replied, “Yeah, but he’s also our player-coach.”
Meanwhile, Britain’s Keely Hodgkinson, who won Olympic, world and Commonwealth silver medals last year, won her heat to underline her status as favorite for Saturday’s 800m final. She then made it clear that she was determined to win the gold.
“I’ve just been told I didn’t smile enough today, but I’m tired, that’s why,” Hodgkinson said. “I’m definitely in the home straight now. I’m tired, but I’m doing fatigued reps, so I’ll be fine. I believe in my abilities and what I can do.”
“Winning gold is a big thing,” added Hodgkinson, who will face Britain’s Jemma Reekie and Alexandra Bell in the final. “I would like to be at the top of the podium this year. I wrote down my goals and went to every champion wanting to win. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, but I’m still very happy with my season overall.”
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