Eilidh Doyle leaps into unknown on return from three-month lay-off

Eilidh Doyle faces a tough return to competition with Dalilah Muhammad and Janieve Russell also in the 400m hurdles line-up. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS
Eilidh Doyle faces a tough return to competition with Dalilah Muhammad and Janieve Russell also in the 400m hurdles line-up. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS
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Eilidh Doyle is accustomed to jumping and adjustments on the fly. This afternoon in London, the Olympic medalist will take a leap into the unknown. Sidelined for three months with a strain in her calf that swiped 40 per cent of the power from her left leg, she will return to action over 400 metres hurdles at the Muller Anniversary Games in the belief that she can speedily regain her prime form with the European Championships in Berlin now less than three weeks away.

The injury, sustained prior to a Commonwealth Games in which the 31-year-old claimed silver and then exacerbated while prepping for the summer, stalled a potent trajectory. A bronze medalist over 400m at March’s world indoor championships in Birmingham, she had rarely looked quicker.

“It hadn’t healed properly by the time I got to Commonwealths so we were managing it there,” she revealed. “And then I over-compensated so the other side got torn. It didn’t feel too painful.

“I know when Katarina Johnson-Thompson had the exact same thing, she couldn’t walk. It varies a lot. I just kept cramping every time I tried to step up my training.”

Hence there has been diligent, if dull, rehabilitation in Loughborough and Bath rather than joining her rivals on the Diamond League circuit. Doyle withdrew from the stop in Rome at two days’ notice. “The tickets were already booked,” she rues. “My bag was packed and I should have been on the start line.”

The London Stadium will not ease her gently back into the fray with the USA’s champion Dalilah Muhammad and Jamaica’s Janieve Russell, pictured, who claimed Commonwealth gold, in the field. With the British squad for the Europeans to be picked on Monday, Doyle will be obliged to prove her readiness for Germany.

“Normally I’d have raced a few times so I’d know what shape I’m in but this time, I have no idea what I’ll do,” she acknowledged. “So this will be a tester to see where I sit going forward and especially what I need to do between now and Europeans. Is there something I need to work on or do I need to go away and look at something? It’s almost an information-gathering opportunity, two weeks out from Berlin. Hopefully there’s enough there.”

The two-day London meeting will provide Laura Muir with an intensive pre-Berlin tune-up tomorrow when she makes an attempt on Zola Budd’s British mile record of 4:17.57 that has stood unbroken for 33 years. While her fellow Scots Neil Gourley and Josh Kerr have one more opportunity to press their case for the single discretionary pick for the Europeans in the men’s 1,500m.