Last summer, Freya Ross was a late addition to the Great Britain team for the Olympics after injury forced Paula Radcliffe to withdraw from the marathon.
This year, it is the Scot who has been forced to withdraw from the world championships, after what she initially thought was just a niggle turned out to be a stress reaction in her femur.
But, while naturally disappointed not to be part of the team for Moscow, Ross is still very upbeat about her own future and that of Scottish athletics. Speaking yesterday at the launch of the Bank of Scotland’s Join In 2013 programme of events, the 29-year-old explained that, now she is nearly over that injury, her plan is to get a qualifying time for the Commonwealth Games marathon as soon as possible.
“It’s taken a bit longer to get over [the injury], but I feel I’m making really good progress now and I am back running,” Ross said. “If everything goes to plan I’ll be back to normal training quite soon, then hope to do a marathon either later this year or early next year.
“I’d probably prefer to do one then than wait until the Virgin London Marathon, which is in April, because that doesn’t give you very long between then and the Commonwealths. So the plan is to do one late this year or early next, and get the qualifying time.
“If I was to get the marathon time then, I’m not sure I would do much on the track. But if I wasn’t to get a qualifying time in the marathon I probably would have a go trying to qualify in a 5 or a 10k. It would be horrible to have a Commonwealth Games on your back door step and not give yourself every opportunity of being there.”
Ross’s former training partner Susan Partridge will compete in the marathon in Moscow, and is one of seven Scots in the British team. “I haven’t trained with Susan since we were in Boulder. But when we trained together she was going really well and seemed really positive. I think she’ll go really well if everything goes to plan on the day.
“The marathon is at 3pm, in Moscow, in August, so I don’t think it’s going to be ideal conditions for a super-fast time. But I think she’ll be able to run well enough to feel like she’s done herself justice. Just to be in another world championships is a major achievement, but she’ll want to go out there and perform well. It will be good to see what she does achieve.”
The number of Scots in this year’s British team is the highest since the early years of the world championship in the 1980s – just one indication of the increasing strength of track and field here. Ross credits Scottish Athletics director of coaching Stephen Maguire with helping create a lot of enthusiasm within a sport that not so long ago appeared to be at a low ebb.
“I think there is a really positive atmosphere. Stephen Maguire has made people a bit more positive as well – he seems to be really involved and is very approachable. Not that the previous head coaches weren’t like that, but to have another head coach who is involved and is positive – I think that’s good.
“And there does seem to be a positive atmosphere within the sport itself. Seeing people regularly competing at Diamond League events, and at European and world championships – I think it’s great.
“Even things like at the British Championships [in Birmingham two weeks ago], seeing a 1-2-3-4 in the steeplechase. Stuff like that is really positive.”
Ross was speaking at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow at one of the first events to take place under the Join In 2013 banner: Glasgow Athletics Association and Shettleston Harriers’ summer athletics camp. By the time Join In ends on 9 September, about half a million people from around the UK are expected to have taken part in more than 10,000 community events.
More than 1,000 events have already been registered in Scotland. For more details, or to register an event, visit www.joininuk.org.