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Olympic Medalist Calls For More Research Into How Periods Affect Athletic Performance


Olympic Medalist Calls For More Research Into How Periods Affect Athletic Performance

Dina Asher-Smith became world champion in the 200m in 2019 and won bronze medals at the 2016 and 2020 Olympics. (Ina Fassbender/AFP/Getty Images)

By Issy Ronald, CNN

(CNN) — British sprinter Dina Asher-Smith called for more funding to research the impact of periods on athletic performance after she pulled up with cramps, caused by her period, during her 100 meter title defense at the European Championship.

“People don’t always talk about it either because you see girls that have been so consistent and there is a random dip,” Asher-Smith told BBC Sport.

“Behind the scenes, they have been really struggling, but outwards everybody else is saying, ‘What’s that? That’s random,’ so it could just do with more funding.

“I feel like if it was a men’s issue, we would have a million different ways to combat things, but with women, there just needs to be more funding in that area.”

The 26-year-old pulled up 60m into the race on Tuesday suffering from cramps in her calves and finished last, but swatted away any lingering injury doubts when she returned to the track on Thursday evening for the semifinals of the 200m.

“[It was] girl stuff [on Tuesday]. It was frustrating, but just one of those things,” she told BBC Sport after she had won her 200m heat with a time of 22.53 seconds.

“It is a shame because I am in really good shape, so I was really looking to come and run fast here, but sometimes, that is not the way that everything pans out.”

“It is something which I think more people need to actually research from a sports science perspective because it is absolutely huge.”

Just 6% of sport and exercise studies have focused on women specifically, Kelly Lee McNulty — a researcher of the menstrual cycle’s effect on exercise — told the BBC in May.

Nonetheless, several female athletes have begun to publicly address the impact of periods on their performance, breaking the taboo which still exists around the subject.

In May, women’s golf world No. 4 Lydia Ko was praised for openly talking about suffering back pains caused by her period during the Palos Verdes Championship. Tennis star Iga Swiatek also spoke about the impact of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) after her loss to Maria Sakkari at the 2021 WTA Finals.

Olympic heptathlete champion Jessica Ennis-Hill, meanwhile, recently launched her own fitness app which incorporates menstrual cycle tracking into its exercise planning, allowing users to train around their cycle.

Asher-Smith will next compete in the 200m final this evening.

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