Dina Asher-Smith has urged UK Athletics to keep a London base for the good of the sport amid reports that it is in preliminary talks over a £10-15m deal to quit the Olympic Stadium.
Such a move would allow West Ham to transform their stadium into a full-time football ground but would raise serious questions about the 2012 Olympic legacy and the ability of UKA to stage major athletics meetings in the capital.
And when Asher-Smith was asked whether Birmingham – which will host the Commonwealth Games this summer – could be the new home of British athletics, the 200m world champion made an impassioned plea to UKA not to forget London.
“We’ve got a really nice new stadium in Birmingham, which I’ll be fortunate enough to try out next week,” she said. “I’m very excited for that and very excited about the Commonwealth Games. But I always think that London is the centre of sport in the UK.”
“It would be amazing to have a base and really use the London Stadium, particularly as it is the Olympic Stadium and it is where the Anniversary Games has been,” she added. “All the other major sports have their base in London.”
In 2013 a 50-year deal was signed for athletics to take place in a one-month slot every year amid West Ham’s lease of the stadium. However it costs £3m to convert to stage athletics and UKA, which is facing a financial squeeze, could decide to accept between £10-15m to give up its lease.
Asher-Smith, who takes on the Olympic 400m champion, Shaunae Miller-Uibo, in a stacked Diamond League field in Dohaon Friday, also insisted she was fit and cautiously optimistic about a fast time before her first big race of the season.
“I’m hoping to go out there and perform really well,” she added. “I think that’s the wisest thing to do early in the season. Last year the season-opener was Gateshead in the pouring rain. If you have expectations of times sometimes early on, you are not always fulfilled for reasons that are outside of your control.”