LYNSEY Sharp paid the Sainsbury’s Glasgow Grand Prix the highest possible compliment yesterday, saying the atmosphere within the national football stadium had made her feel she was back at the 2012 Olympics.
European champion Sharp and Scotland team-mate Laura Muir were both disappointed with their outings in the 800 metres, but were confident they had gained valuable experience before the Commonwealth Games begin on the same track later this month.
“I walked out on to the track and it hit me,” Sharp said. “It was like, I’m back in London. It was exactly like London. I told myself ‘don’t think about that’. I was trying to focus. It was awesome. To see the Scotland flags in the crowd was amazing.”
Sharp was sixth in 2min 00.08 seconds, and Muir was ninth in a season’s best of 2:02.92. Both were beaten in the heavily promoted Battle of the Brits by England’s Jessica Judd, third in 2:00.01. But all the Commonwealth competitors were behind the top two, Ajee Wilson of the USA and Rose Mary Almanza of Cuba, both of whom ducked under the two-minute barrier.
After recording a personal best under that mark just two weeks ago, Sharp was frustrated by her inability to at least snatch third in a virtual blanket finish between four athletes. But, on reflection, she realised her disappointment was an indication of how well she has raced recently since getting over a lengthy injury lay-off.
“It was just rubbish,” Sharp said after the meeting, which attracted a day-two crowd of 15,287. “But to run two minutes flat, and to think that’s rubbish – that says a lot. It’s my second fastest ever, behind Lausanne and just ahead of Hengelo.
“Every race is different and you’ve got to learn to deal with things like that. That could be exactly what the Commonwealth final is like. The last 100 was amazing – to be in that type of race was just awesome, trying to hold form and literally running through the line for a change. It was fun, the last 100.”
Muir, who plans to double up in the 800 and 1,500 in the Commonwealth Games, said she was sure she had been in the form to go significantly quicker. “I’m in much better shape than that, so it’s a bit disappointing,” she said. “I don’t know why the 800 isn’t working at the moment, because I know I’m in great shape and can run sub-two. I got good position but ended up running really wide, which didn’t help. The other girls ran really well so I’m happy for them. I’m disappointed, but I’ll move on to the next one.”
While Sharp and Muir have been promoted as rivals, the two are well aware that, for the next few weeks at least, their interests are the same – doing their utmost to win medals for Scotland. “It was really nice being around her,” Muir said of Sharp. “We’re good friends and she did really well.”
In the men’s 1,500, Chris O’Hare and Jake Wightman were also run out of the top three, but both produced personal bests. O’Hare came fifth in 3:35.06, while Wightman was a place behind in 3:35.49.
With the Great Britain team for the European Championships being selected on Monday then announced on Tuesday, Eilish McColgan was annoyed that her time for the 3,000m steeplechase was just outside the qualifying standard of 9:43.00. The British selectors have the discretion to select one athlete in each event if none has made the mark, but McColgan had hoped for automatic selection.
“I’m really, really disappointed,” McColgan said after finishing 12th in a season’s best of 9:44.69. “If two months ago someone had said to me: ‘Oh, don’t worry, you’ll get down to running 9:44s and you’ll feel good doing it,’ I’d have taken it, but to be just outside that qualifying mark? I couldn’t be any more gutted.” There was a similar reaction from Libby Clegg and guide Mikail Huggins after a third place in the T11-13 100m in a season’s best of 12.40sec. “I’m a little bit disappointed, but it’s early,” said Clegg, one of Scotland’s biggest hopes for a Commonwealth Games medal on the track. “We’ve still got some time left before the Commonwealths for some fine-tuning.
“I know I could have run faster, but it’s been great to come here and experience the warm-up area, knowing where the toilets are, and things. I don’t know what time I expected. We came here to run and experience it. See what we could do. As long as you go out there and give your best you should be happy with your performance. I’m extremely critical of myself and always strive for better, so I’m never happy.”
Scottish high-jumper Jayne Nisbet came sixth in her event with 1m 80cm. Blanka Vlasic of Croatia won with 1.96. Olympic long-jump champion Greg Rutherford was forced to pull out after injuring himself during the warm-up yesterday. “Sadly during the warm up I’ve ended up with a nerve irritation in the back of my knee. I’d like to apologise for not competing today and hope to make up for it in two weeks at Commonwealth Games,” he said.
Meanwhile, Olympic sprint relay gold medallist Yohan Blake received good news yesterday after pulling up midway through his 100m race on Friday night.
The Jamaican, who had already said he would not compete in the Commonwealth Games because of fitness worries, appeared to have pulled a muscle as he staggered then fell on to the track.
But yesterday his agent said initial tests showed no damage.