DCSIMG

Athletics: Former coaches back Freya as she eyes Olympic medal

  • by SANDY SUTHERLAND
 

Two of Freya Murray’s former coaches — Carol Sharp and Ian Whyte — are right behind her as she goes into Sunday’s Olympic Marathon in London.

Murray is a substitute for one of the icons of the sport, women’s world record-holder Paula Radcliffe, who was forced to withdraw.

Sharp, whose daughter Lynsey will be in action as Britain’s sole representative in the 800 metres next week, coached Murray for four years while she was a pupil at Beeslack High School in Penicuik, while Whyte took over when Murray moved to Sunderland, coaching her for nearly three years.

“I’m delighted for her, she’s such a nice person — despite the fact that as a successful sportsperson you sometimes have to be very single-minded,” said Sharp, herself a former international runner.

“She was running 1500 metres when I started working with her and, even at the start, it was clear the marathon was going to be her event.”

“I was also aware that she was someone who had the mentality to take herself to world level — there are just some people who have the potential to go all the way.”

Whyte, who is principal lecturer in sports coaching at the University of Sunderland, believes that, despite her late call-up, the 28-year-old Edinburgh AC member, who is now coached by Colorado-based former London Marathon winner Steve Jones, will do “admirably”.

“I’m so pleased for her that the decision by Paula to withdraw was taken in time for Freya to fulfil a lifetime’s ambition — I expect her to give everything. It is a major championship and she’ll be as well prepared as possible.”

“As she was preparing for the Chicago Marathon in October she’s got the groundwork done, so it’ll just be a case of easing up this week,” continued Whyte, who put up Murray in his own home when she first moved south of the Border.

Lynsey Sharp, who is still out in Portugal at the UK Athletics held training camp — with those athletes who are late starters in the Games — has confessed to being a little bored: “I’m dying to get into action now,” she said.

The first of the five female Scots due to be in action is set to be Glasgow’s Lee McConnell, in today’s 400 metres heats.

McConnell has a tough draw in her heat, four of her rivals — who include Russian Antonina Krivoshapka, with a personal best of 49.16 seconds — have run faster than her this season.

Eilish McColgan, of Dundee, goes into the 3000 metres steeplechase heats on Saturday, provided there are no ill-effects from the road accident in which she was involved in Portugal.

McColgan, daughter of Liz McColgan, was out for a training run when she was hit by a van which took her legs away, leaving her sitting on the bonnet.

She was able to resume her run and completed the three miles back to the camp.

Liz McColgan said that the only injury to her daughter appeared to be a sore, stiff back, but they would not know till later whether there had been any other damage.

 

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