A MEMORABLE year for Lynsey Sharp, in which she went from a hospital bed to a Commonwealth Games podium in a matter of hours, is to be relived in a new BBC documentary to be screened just before Christmas.
The Edinburgh athlete, who won a silver medal at Glasgow 2014 then another silver weeks later at the European Championships, has yet to see the finished product, but has been told by her mother, Carol, that she will enjoy it. “My mum saw it today for the first time and she says it’s really good,” Sharp said yesterday. “She’s happy with it. It’s really emotional so I’m looking forward to seeing it, and I think it’s being shown on 22 December, so hopefully a lot of people will watch it.
“I can’t actually remember doing that much filming with the camera crew at the Commonwealth Games, I guess because there was so much going on that week. But I did stuff before and afterwards with them, some behind-the-scenes things. They came and filmed me walking Walter, my dog, for example. So that was nice.”
Sharp battled through the first two rounds of the 800 metres in Glasgow while feeling increasingly ill. Her participation in the final was thrown into doubt when she needed to be put on a drip the night before, but, knowing she would never get the chance to compete in another home Games, she decided she had to run. With the words ‘Get out strong. Commit’ written on her hand, she came second behind Kenyan world champion Eunice Sum.
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“I watched footage of the three rounds yesterday. It was funny, because my interpretation of the final was that I was right up there – but then I watched it back and I actually wasn’t. My impression of the race was completely different to what actually happened.
“The one I find most interesting to watch is the semi-final, because you can almost read in my face when I’m, like, ‘Oh, shit’ – I’m seventh or something and have to catch so many people to get through to the final. I don’t know how I did that. It was just pure determination, but it seemed impossible with 120m to go.”
Sharp’s illness was never officially diagnosed – at the time, getting it out of her system was the priority – but she is now all but certain that it was norovirus, of which there had been several cases among workers in the athletes’ village before the Games began. “I’m 90 per cent sure that it was norovirus. Having read into norovirus afterwards, and remembering how I felt and what symptoms I had, it was completely random – I’d never had anything like that before. It just makes sense that it was norovirus, because it was there in the village before.
“I kind of feel like no-one wants it to be that. I read a report that said the last outbreak was three days before I got ill, but I first felt ill on the day of my heat – which was at the same time as the last recorded instance of norovirus.”
Sharp had only qualified very late for the Games, having had her winter training severely restricted because of a second operation on a leg injury. Her winter programme this year is already well under way, however, and she is due to fly out to a British Athletics training camp in South Africa at the start of next month. After that, the countdown will begin in earnest to her major focus for 2015 – the IAAF World Championships in Beijing.
“I didn’t qualify for the world championships in 2011, then I missed them last year because I was out injured. So I’ve not been to a world champs yet, and having been to a Commonwealth, Olympics and Europeans it’s the one I’m missing out on. So hopefully I’ll be fit and healthy and get to the next one in 2015.
“Medalling at all four is the dream, and I’ve medalled at the Commonwealths and Europeans. So naturally the next steps up are the world champs and the Olympics next year and the year after. I’d love to be there and to medal. I think I’ve got at least 2016 and 2020 to compete at the Olympics. In 2016 I’ll be 26, which is quite a good age. In 2020 I’ll be 30, which some may think is a bit old, but I’ve missed quite a lot of years through injury, so my body feels younger.”
• Sainsbury’s partnership with British Athletics reflects its wider commitment to inspiring healthy lifestyles for all, and complements grassroots campaigns such as Active Kids and the Sainsbury’s School Games. www.sainsburys.co.uk
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