Olympian Dina Asher-Smith has called for more funding for studies on how a woman’s period can affect athletic performance after the British sprinter pulled up with cramp during her 100 metres title defence at the European Championships in Munich.
- Olympic sprinter Dina Asher-Smith revealed she was on her period when she finished last in the 100m final
- She has been praised by other athletes like Scotland’s Eilish McColgan for speaking up
- Tennis world number one Iga Swiatek and golf’s Lydia Ko have also questioned the lack of research into the topic
Asher-Smith pulled up midway through her earlier race with cramp in her calf and finished last. The 26-year-old returned to action later in the week to qualify for Saturday’s 200m final.
“It’s something more people need to research from a sports science perspective, because it’s absolutely huge,” Asher-Smith said afterwards.
“Women don’t talk about it, either. We see girls that have been 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’s 4x100m relay teammate, Imani-Lara Lansiquot, revealed she was on her period at the Munich event — and that her fellow runners had no idea.
Like Asher-Smith, Lansiquot questioned why more research and funding wasn’t dedicated to women’s menstrual cycles in sport.
“One hundred per cent, there should be more funding,” she said after qualifying fastest for Sunday’s relay final.
“I still think it’s quite shocking that it’s taboo. I’m going through it right now; I’m sure all of us have gone through it at some point, but we’ve still not even said anything to each other because it feels like a massive taboo that isn’t discussed.
“I would love, in five or 10 years’ time, for this not to be a hush-hush conversation, and for it to be something you can talk about and conquer instead of having to shy away from.”
The issue has come to the fore across women’s sport in recent months, with recent Commonwealth Games gold medallist Eilish McColgan penning a column for the BBC in which she praised Asher-Smith and described running on her period as having “legs [that] feel like they have been replaced with concrete blocks, and that a screwdriver is carving out the Taj Mahal around my ovaries.”
“Some months, it’s manageable. Other months, it’s unbearable. There’s no telling which Eilish you’re going to get on the day. To try and run, or at least perform to the best of my ability, is an almost impossible task,” she wrote.
Tennis world number one Iga Swiatek had also addressed the issue at this year’s French Open, saying advances in medicine and technology can provide solutions to women athletes.
New Zealand’s world number four women’s golfer Lydia Ko was praised online during the Palos Verdes Championship earlier this year after she openly discussed suffering back problems during the tournament due to her period.