Looks fa­mil­iar . . . Sharp on solid ground ahead of Amer­i­can chal­lenge

The Herald - Herald Sport - - SPEED SKATING, ATHLETICS - MARK WOODS

A DIF­FER­ENT time, a dif­fer­ent place. Still a warm glow of fa­mil­iar­ity. As an all-too-rare re­turn to Scot­land came to an end last week­end, Lynsey Sharp sought out a venue for one fi­nal train­ing ses­sion be­fore de­camp­ing for Amer­ica. Op­tions were lim­ited. But Grange­mouth proved an in­spired choice.

The town’s compact ath­let­ics sta­dium was where the track from Ham­p­den Park was re­lo­cated fol­low­ing a Com­mon­wealth Games that brought uni­ver­sal ad­mi­ra­tion upon the now-25year-old for her re­mark­able jour­ney from sick­ness to sil­ver in the 800m.

“I used to run at Grange­mouth all the time,” the Scot re­veals. “I raced there lots when I was younger. But it was quite dif­fi­cult to imag­ine the Ham­p­den track was right there. It was quite emo­tional, think­ing of how amaz­ing Ham­p­den was.

“I was walk­ing down to the start line think­ing: ‘this is so weird’. This is the last 100 me­tres where I was killing my­self to catch Win­nie Nanyondo and get sil­ver. It was a good place to go to do my last ses­sion be­fore I came out here.”

In Port­land over the next 48 hours, she will hope to turn an­other arena into an­other de­pos­i­tory of pos­i­tive vibes. Ranked third among those en­tered into this evening’s semi-fi­nals of the 800 me­tres, Sharp con­tin­ues to un­der­play her chances. This sum­mer’s Olympic Games are the over­whelm­ing pri­or­ity. Her win­ter’s work was al­ways de­signed as a test, a place to teach a not-so-old dog new tricks.

In fin­ish­ing third be­hind Bri­tish team-mate Adelle Tracey at the re­cent Bri­tish tri­als, she un­der­lined that her in­door ap­proach re­mains an in­com­plete education, de­spite the Scot­tish record she oblit­er­ated just weeks be­fore. “There re­ally is no mar­gin for er­ror,” she con­firms. “If you want to make a move, you have to be de­ci­sive about it.”

The progress made is promis­ing. Th­ese are de­lib­er­ate ploys, en­gi­neered by her Bos­ton-based coach Ter­rence Ma­hon, to iron out the kinks that ru­ined her bid at last Septem­ber’s out­door World Cham­pi­onships in Bei­jing when she failed to reach the 800m fi­nal. Barely a fort­night later, she be­came the third-quick­est Bri­ton of all time with a run of 1.57.71s in Ber­lin. Too late. Lessons learnt.

“We know I can run fast but there were a cou­ple of things we both felt I needed to work on to go into Rio fairly con­fi­dent in my abil­ity at a cham­pi­onship,” Sharp re­veals. “At the same time, we didn’t want to make it into more than it was. I do have a good track record at cham­pi­onships. It was just about look­ing at where we could im­prove things to get me to the point where I can win an Olympic medal.”

A maiden global gong would be an ideal stag­ing post. She can match any­one for speed. The race for gold could be­come a tac­ti­cal gam­bit. “I know I’m in shape but there’s a lot more to it than be­ing able to run fast,” she adds. “It’s about get­ting it right on the day.”

Mean­while, Bei­jing sil­ver medal­list Shara Proc­tor be­lieves her quest to beat in-form UK in­door cham­pion Lor­raine Ugen could spur both to long jump medals. “I be­lieve it will take a big jump, pos­si­bly over seven me­tres, to win the gold medal,” Proc­tor said.

France’s Re­naud Lav­il­lene se­cured the first gold in Port­land in the pole vault de­spite miss­ing three at­tempts to break his own world record while the USA’s Jenn Suhr won the women’s pole ti­tle. Scots pair Steph Twell and Jo Moul­trie both go in to­mor­row’s 3000m fi­nal.

FLASH­BACK: An emo­tional Lynsey Sharp af­ter win­ning sil­ver at Glas­gow 2014

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