The capacity crowd which will see Glasgow’s new Emirates Arena host its first major athletics meeting on 26 January will see a Child who has become a serious woman.
Eilidh Child will compete on the flat in the 400m for the Commonwealth team in the British Athletics Glasgow International match at the start of a rare indoor season for the Scot.
Perth-born Child will be 26 next month and, with growing maturity, has come a determination and commitment that leads her to state her lofty goals for the year ahead. “I have grown up quite a lot over the last year,” said Child, “because I had to move away from home and become a full-time athlete. I have become that bit more professional. Everything I do is geared towards my athletics. I have become a lot more switched on and a lot more focused.
“I will be looking for an indoor personal best in Glasgow, to add to the PB I ran outdoors in Glasgow in the 400m last July.
“Getting to the final of the World Championships will be the really big aim this year. In the last couple of years it might have been a bonus to make the final but now I really should be somebody who is disappointed if I don’t make the final.”
The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games is a massive target and her competitive signposts are the European Indoors championships in Gothenburg in early March, the World Athletics Championships in Moscow in August and the World Indoors Championship at Sopot in Poland early in 2014. As well as the 400m hurdles outdoors, Child is looking to be in the British 4 x 400m relay team at all of these.
First up is the Emirates Arena in ten days’ time, and Child can’t wait: “I have not actually seen the new arena yet but I am looking forward to competing there. The first time I race will be the first time that I will have been in it, so that makes it more exciting. It has been so long since I have done an indoor season. I also have not competed in Scotland since 2011 so I am really looking forward to it.
“To be in front of a sell-out crowd of 5,000 will be amazing, especially coming off the back of the Olympics and with everyone now looking forward to the Commonwealth Games.”
Speaking the day after it was confirmed that Child’s main coaches, Malcolm Arnold and James Hiller, have been appointed lead hurdles coach and assistant lead respectively for UK Athletics, Child revealed that Arnold’s guidance is what has led her to appear in Glasgow.
Competitive sprinting indoors was deliberately chosen because of a feeling that she was not starting fast enough in her hurdles event. Child explained: “Malcolm thought I should do an indoor season because indoors you have to get out fast over the first lap. He thought it would be just a bit of good practice to get it into my head about competing and getting out hard and fast. I was also up for doing an indoor season because, when you are training, it can be quite long from October right through until May without racing.”
The proof that Child, who has recently been training in South Africa, had moved to a new level of seriousness about her athletics came in late 2011 when she moved south to Bath University, where Arnold coaches his group, including world champion Dai Greene, in the process giving up her job as a PE teacher at Perth Grammar School.
Child said: “In my head I thought leaving Scotland, leaving home and everybody behind would be quite tough but the reality of moving to Bath and training full-time wasn’t tough at all. I settled in quite quickly, and it was just what I needed to do. I didn’t want to have any regrets looking back on my athletics career, and I knew that I needed to be a full-time athlete.
“Now, having a year of full-time training behind me, I feel going into this winter that I’m in better shape starting off and I am better prepared for what is to come. I ran a personal best last year, which showed that it had made a slight difference, but I am hoping that the real difference will show this year because they always say that it is in your second winter that you get the real benefit of the changes you’ve made.”
Had Child repeated that personal best set in Geneva last June in the Olympic final, she would have finished sixth, with only one Commonwealth athlete (Kaliese Spencer of Jamaica) in front of her. Instead she could only make the semi-final.
She said: “If I could have run the times that I did earlier in the year at the Olympics it would have made a big difference, so I was really disappointed, but I’m just trying to take on the positives and the learning aspects.
“Looking back, I think I was just content to make the Olympic team rather than making sure I ran my best there and maybe I was a bit complacent.”
There is no complacency about Child now, this is a very serious athlete.
Meanwhile, World Indoor triple jump champion Yamile Aldama has confirmed that she too will compete at the Glasgow International Match.
• Watch the British Athletics Glasgow International Match live on BBC1 between 1:30pm-4:30pm. Tickets for the 2013 British Athletics Series are available at www.uka.org.uk