Thomas has high hopes for British duo despite delay to Olympics

Former Olympic athlete Iwan Thomas is backing Dina Asher-Smith and Katarina Johnson-Thompson to still be at the top of the podium when the Tokyo Olympics are eventually held.

Sprinter Asher-Smith and heptathlete Johnson-Thompson both won golds at last year’s World Championships and were heavy favourites going into this summer’s Olympic Games.

But the coronavirus pandemic has seen them postponed until 2021, which is a huge frustration for athletes who are at their peak.

But Thomas, who won a relay silver medal in the 1996 Atlanta Games, says he expects the duo still to be favourites next summer.

“Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Dina Asher-Smith will just take it in their stride, they know what they need to do, they will take it one week at a time, be ready for when it matters and come Tokyo 2021 they will be champions,” he told the PA news agency.

“If you take Dina Asher-Smith, who is at the moment the world champion and the one to be shot at, she has got the confidence. For an athlete a year is a long time and a lot could happen.

“So, from a negative side you could say this time next year she could have had an injury, she might not be in the shape she is in now.

“But you can flip it and say she will have another year under her belt, will be another year stronger.

“She will still be the favourite going into next year’s Olympics.

“It’s just a shame for those athletes who are in the shape of their lives right now and they need this opportunity.

“Everyone is going to have to change their plans around this.”

For some athletes this summer would have represented the end of a four-year cycle and possibly their careers and it is those who Thomas feels the most pain for.

“It’s devastating news for athletes, especially those who might have been coming to the end of their careers and might have seen Tokyo as a great way to say farewell and go out at the top.

“They have now got to decide can they financially and physically put enough in the tank to get ready for next year?”