We recently announced our sponsorship of the Team GB 800m athlete Lynsey Sharp and just like with any sportsperson Lynsey has had to overcome her own obstacles to qualify for the Commonwealth Games.
This is the first blog in a series written by Lynsey especially for our fundraisers! Throughout the coming months you can follow Lynsey’s journey through the Commonwealth Games and beyond and hopefully take some invaluable nuggets of advice from an elite…
The past eight weeks have been a bit of a roller-coaster ride – full of ups and downs. It seems so far in the past now but, six weeks ago, I was in hospital on an IV antibiotic drip to kill an infection in my operation wound. At that point, I thought it might be the end of the road for my Glasgow 2014 hopes. But here I am, my fortunes have turned.
Qualifying for the Commonwealth Games last weekend was not only a massive relief in itself but, by recording the required time, it also means that I am now free to concentrate on doing what is best for my preparation rather than chasing races round Europe.
Without wishing to sound too immodest, the qualifying time should have been something I took in my stride – and I’m sure it would have been had I not needed surgery twice in the past year. The time required for the 800 metres is 2:02.80, whereas my personal best is 2:00.52. That’s a big safety margin, and if I had been able to train properly over the winter it should have been no problem. Instead,
It forced me to change my schedule in search of meetings where I would have a chance of qualifying, and with the 8th June deadline [for qualifying for the Commonwealth Games] fast approaching, the stress was fast beginning to build.
In fact, my stress levels were probably never higher than just before the race in Lokeren, Belgium, last week where I recorded the time I needed – 2:02.42. We had been told there was a pacemaker who would take us through the first lap in around 59 seconds, and I even saw her warming up before the race, so I presumed all was well. But for some reason, she pulled out just before the start. As the other runners had nothing so urgent to worry about,I was basically left running on my own from gun to tape.
Having said that, it was a pretty perplexing start to the race and not something I would choose to experience again in a hurry. I moved on to my next race on Saturday in Manchester, which I won, and improved my time to 2.01.68.
With the time out of the way, the main thing now is that I can choose whether to race or not over the next two or three weeks. My coaches and I can now sit down and plan a training schedule. If we think that a bit of race practice would be beneficial at this stage, there are a couple of big meetings on the continent, such as Hengelo, where I am running this weekend.
Now, when I race,
But if we decide that a more solid block of training is required, we have the option to do that.
Still, while I’ve put that stressful experience behind me, it’s not as if I now plan to have a relaxing time over the next couple of months. Getting the time is only the first step and, all being well, by the time the Games come round I will be running much faster.
It’s hard to say for sure what I would have done, but had the Games been anywhere other than Glasgow this year, there would have been a strong temptation to err on the safe side, give myself longer to build up my strength and race fitness following surgery and miss out on the Games. Especially with a European title to defend – if I qualify for Team GB, and if I am in the shape to do myself justice – it would have been a lot simpler in terms of planning, and certainly a lot less stressful, to concentrate on getting fit for mid-August in Switzerland rather than late July in Scotland. But
Some of my earliest memories in athletics are of sprinting for City of Glasgow AC when I was about ten or 11, so I feel that affinity towards the city as it well it being my mum’s home town.
For those reasons, as well as personal ambition, I was relieved to qualify. Now, rather than wondering if I will get to compete at Hampden, I can go into every training session encouraged by the knowledge that I will be there.