10 March 2009
Well a lot has happened since my first diary extract last Wednesday. The European Indoor Champs have been and gone and I’m left to reflect on what could have been!
After meeting up with the rest of the Aviva GB & NI team at Gatwick Airport, we arrived in Turin in a positive frame of mind ahead of the Championships. Some athletes amongst the team were serious medal contenders, others potential finalists, whilst a couple had travelled to simply embrace their first championship atmosphere.
The team hotel was just a five minute walk from the indoor stadium and was set overlooking the scenic snow-covered mountains. The weather for the first couple of days was non-stop rain but as we woke on the morning of the first day of competition, the sky was clear and it remained that way for the duration of the championships.
The women’s 800m event was scheduled for the afternoon session on all three days of the championships. I like it that way as it keeps me busy. After each round I carried out my routine of cooling down, checking in with the medical team, refuelling and getting some vital rest before I was ready to do it all again.
The heats on the first day were merely a case of getting round the 800m distance as easily as possible. From the European Indoor season rankings it was clear that six women stood out from the rest as likely finalists. These were the Russian pairing of the defending champion, Zbrozhek and Russian Indoor Champion Savinova; Ukrainian athlete Petluk who had two silver medals form the last European Indoor Champs and last year’s World Indoor Champs; Italian middle distance star Cusma who led the World rankings, and of course the British duo of Okoro and myself.
All six girls duly qualified in the automatic top two positions from their respective heats meaning that the semi-finals were equally seeded with three girls in each. With qualifying out of the way the final promised to be a mouth-watering event. Well for the spectators anyway!
Standing on the line for my third major Championship Indoor final I wondered what the next two minutes would hold for me. With the race underway Petluk found herself at the front but was reluctant to take on the pace. It was Marilyn Okoro who decided to lay her gauntlet down to the rest of us and she took off at a fierce some pace. The rest of the race was a bit of a blur to me as I passed the lap marker on a couple of occasions without remembering what had gone on between laps. Unfortunately I had given the Italian Cusma a couple of metres start on me as I closed her down but came 0.19 seconds short of the bronze. Fourth place really is a bad place to finish, although not the acclaimed ‘worst’ as some people would say. You have not failed; you have just fallen short of the mark.
That’s how I would sum up my thoughts. I will have to wait for my next opportunity. In fact with my last three major Indoor Championship placing being fifth, fifth and fourth, I have now learned that you do not wait for your next opportunity – you have to go and create the opportunity yourself. I am desperate to do this.
After the culmination of a Championship there is always a closing banquet for all athletes, team staff, coaches and officials that are hosted by the local organising committee. As a team we all went along and enjoyed some Italian food and watched the relay teams receive their medals.
After an early morning start the next day we landed back in Gatwick. No doubt every athlete and coach will be planning their next phase of training in preparation for the major event of the summer, the World Championships in Berlin. Some of the team will be ahead of where they planned to be at this stage in the year, others where they planned to be, whilst others will have ground to make up.
One thing is certain, the next few months preparation will be very focused on preparing in the best way that we can so that we can perform to our highest standards in the summer.
See you all then,