THE last thing Eilidh Child needed in her shot at track glory was a false start. In fact that was the stuff her nightmares were made of.
Lining up for her 400m hurdles final there was a noise over the PA system just as the athletes were preparing for the off.
“I had a false start in my heat so, when that happened as well, I just thought, why does it always happen to me? I had a dream that I had a false start, the night before, and I’d hardly had any sleep. I have never had a false start in my life before but obviously it was just nerves.
“It did wake me up, I was awake every hour on the hour. The same thing happened in Delhi as well so, when it was happening, I thought it’s happened before so I wasn’t too worried I hadn’t had the best night’s sleep as I knew I’d be like that.”
One of the biggest home names, like Michael Jamieson, the pressure was on for her to deliver. So, when one of the other competitors put her hand up to say the unexpected noise had unsettled her, Child was happy for the time to regroup.
“I was relieved that she did it, but I didn’t really know what they were going to do about it. I am always told stay in your blocks, until someone tells you to stand up. Because sometimes if you just stand up and don’t put your hand up they can just disqualify you for that. “
After her nightmare, Child wasn’t risking that. Not on that stage, not in front of her home crowd.
It was a dream come true, though, leaving everything she had out on the track and leaving with silver and the memories of a joyous lap of honour and an emotional medal ceremony.
“Before, you go into the dining hall and you meet everyone and they’re asking when you’re racing, when you’re on and every time you’re asked you feel sick. But, as soon as I focused on the race, I would feel completely calm as I knew what I needed to do but every so often you’d watch people competing and see them winning medals and think, I want that and that’d get you anxious and it would just get the nerves going again.” But Child delivered and is not only Commonwealth silver medallist, she is also aware of her own mental steel, shouldering the burden of expectation and reaping the benefits.
“If I hadn’t [got a medal] this would have been a bit of a blow to me but, for me, it’s not really going to get any bigger than this in terms of pressure and expectation. It’s not going to get any bigger than a Scotland games, a home games. So the fact I’ve been able to deal with it and get through it for any championship I go to now if I am the favourite I’ll have dealt with it before and know I can deal with it again.”
That will be the case in the upcoming European Championships.
She will be favourite for gold and, while Child would relish the chance to bask in the glory of her Hampden achievements, she admits she is happy to have something to delay the onset of the post-Commonwealth Games blues.
“It’s nice to enjoy this moment but it’ll be nice to go back to a bit of normality. I’ll go back to Bath on Monday and refocus and get ready for the Europeans. It’s nice to be able to come off this, get refocused and once that’s over I can really enjoy both championships after that.”