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