IN HER role as the British team captain at the world indoor championships, Eilidh Child has a responsibility for ebullience.
However, she is acutely aware that the chance to leave Poland with a gold medal for a souvenir is a tantalising possibility this afternoon as the event reaches its conclusion.
As the title holders in the 4x400 relay, Child would expect no less. With the 27-year-old taking the lead leg and Christine Ohuruogu as the anchor, their quartet will not fear the rivalry of the USA, who produced the quickest time in yesterday’s semi-finals at the Ergo Arena, moments after GB&NI had won their heat.
Not since Yvonne Murray and Tom McKean were victorious in 1993 has a Scot stood atop the podium at a global athletics championship. Having taken bronze outdoors in Moscow last September, there is the speed and experience to excel.
“We always think we have a good shot,” she confirmed. “4x400 is funny. It’s all about how you put it together, how safe the changeovers are and giving yourself a good position. I wanted to give myself a good shot. I just wanted to be in the lead at the break because that’s when momentum can be lost. We got a good start and held on to it.”
Evidence of Child’s growing stature had been provided the night before when she turned counsellor to her room-mate Laura Muir, who remains inconsolable after ceding what had seemed a certain shot at a medal in today’s 800m final with a sub-par run in the heats. The entire team, confirmed the skipper, has rallied around the 20-year-old to lift her from the depths.
“What I did say to her was that this could be defining moment in her career,” Child revealed. “Because you do learn a lot more from your mistakes than victories. I told her: ‘When you get to the outdoor season this summer, you might look back on this, say that happened, and realised it caused you to go and do this.’ Or it might not happen this year but in four years time when she’ll go: ‘That was the point that made me how I am today.’”
Of what is a record four Scots competing at a world indoors, Jamie Bowie is the other survivor. The Inverness Harrier was third man off as the British 4x400 quartet qualified second-fastest for this afternoon’s final behind the United States. With Nigel Levine and Richard Buck rested, the pack will be shuffled for the medal tilt with everyone anxiously awaiting their fate.
“We have a good team, we all get on really well,” Bowie confirmed. “And while there’s seven of us out here, we all get behind the four out on the track. We might have a slightly different line-up but we’ll have a strong team in the final.”
Will Sharman set a new personal best of 7.59 seconds to win his 60m hurdles heat while team-mate Andy Pozzi also both secured his berth in today’s semi-finals by claiming victory. “It’s always tough being in lane one with the faster guys on the other side of the track from me so I was a bit concerned about that,” Pozzi said. “For me, I was just focusing on my race and getting a good start. It was a good first round and I couldn’t have asked for much more.”
Asha Philip won her heat to advance from the 60m heats while Sophie Papps, the youngest member of the GB&NI squad, also moved into the semis by coming second behind title favourite Murielle Ahouré. 2012 bronze medallist Shara Proctor and Katarina Johnson-Thomson both advanced in the long jump but Olympic bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz failed to qualify for the high jump final, jumping just 2.25m.
Holly Bleasdale will head Britain’s medal hopes in the last session with the pole vaulter from Preston ranked first in the field.