6th April 2018
LYLE READY FOR "UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY" AT COMMONWEALTH GAMES
At the age of 18, Maria Lyle – one of Scotland’s finest athletes – has achieved more than most athletes do in an entire career. On Wednesday 11 April, she has the opportunity to add some Commonwealth Games silverware to her collection when she takes on the T35 100m.
To put it into context, Lyle is a triple Paralympic medallist, a 5-time world medallist and a 5-time European champion over the sprints – this all happened before her 18th birthday. It is fair to say, the Dunbar-based athlete has stormed the world of para athletics since 2014 when she blasted onto the scene at the IPC European championships in Swansea.
It has been quite a few years for Lyle, who is now training in the Lothian region under the tutelage of recently retired Jamie Bowie, the ex-British international who competed at the last Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Lyle had a very productive indoor season to sharpen up for her tilt at a medal on the Gold Coast, clocking a PB of 9.25 over 60m at the Muller Indoor Grand Prix Glasgow in February; enjoying a rapturous send off from the Scottish crowd. But for now she only has eyes on success in Queensland at her first Commonwealths.
She said earlier in the year: “I usually struggle with the 60m because they are very short and I’m not a naturally speedy person. I don’t have that quick top speed; I’m better at maintaining my pace over a 200m for example. But it will be great practise for the 100m; the Commonwealth Games take place at a different time of the year, so the indoor season is really important for my preparation.”
She added post-race in Glasgow: “I’m really excited for the Commonwealths now, especially after hearing my result. Indoors has been good preparation for Gold Coast.”
Lyle has been training on the Sunshine Coast with her teammates over the last few weeks and is now prepared to take on the Commonwealth field next week, including the host nation’s Paralympic and world champion, Isis Holt.
One thing is for sure, the teenager is wise beyond her years, a thought echoed by her coach.
“Her level of professionalism and her attention to detail is quite astonishing, particularly for someone of her age, and I think that makes it even more rewarding,” her coach Jamie Bowie commented. “She brings it to the track every time. She reminds me of myself to some extent; I was always quite independent and that is probably why I appreciate it a lot more. There are athletes much older than her that don’t have her level of maturity and that understanding of their training programme which is really important.”
High praise indeed.
He adds, “The biggest thing we have worked on is bringing the enjoyment to her athletics. From experience, I know how much you need to enjoy your career. It is a key thing for both of us. We have the Commonwealth Games which is a unique opportunity and then the Europeans so it is a really interesting year for us.”
She lines up in the Carrara Stadium next Wednesday and although the immediate focus is on the competition in Australia, she is not taking her focus off the long-term and how this will contribute to her wider 2018 plan.
“I’d like to PB this season; I’d be chuffed to do that. It has been a couple of seasons since I lowered them so I’m aiming to improve in 2018. At the Europeans, I am looking to defend my titles (T35 100m and 200m). Most importantly, I want a consistent season where I stay healthy and enjoy it.”