Share the glory, share the pain. Lynsey Sharp and Andy Butchart embarked on a journey this winter that was to spirit both from the frost of Scotland to the sunshine of California and then, with a few diversions here and there, to the warmth of Australia’s Gold Coast where the running mates, on and off the track, were to pursue lofty ambitions at the Commonwealth Games.
Fate, cruelly, intervened when the unfortunate Butchart sustained an injury which has left Sharp to continue solo, if not alone. The Olympic 5,000m finalist was at the Emirates Arena yesterday, his moonbooted-foot placed on a scooter-type contraption called a Knee Rover and his voice could be heard above the din as Sharp’s first appearance in Glasgow since her Commonwealth silver in 2014 brought her second place in the 800 metres behind Latvia’s Liga Velvere.
It has been tough, the former European champion revealed, to regroup and refocus with her accomplice destined for recovery rather than reverie Down Under. “I took it a lot worse than he did,” said Sharp. “I had to just take it all. That is what I am there for, to help him with stuff like that. When we went to Harvard for the scan results, and I was trying to train while he was getting the news that he had broken his foot.”
Butchart still has a ticket to Australia in his name. The rehab process will likely mean he will remain behind, at the insistence of his girlfriend if nothing else. “He still wants to come out to Australia too, which says a lot,” Sharp admitted. “But my priority is him recovering while his priority is supporting me.”
Eilidh Doyle is looking at the big picture too, one with a script that centres around the chase for Commonwealth gold following silvers in Delhi and Glasgow.
Yet, unlike Sharp, she is bound for Birmingham this week for the IAAF world indoor championships in Birmingham, where she will double in the 400m and the 4x400 relay. Rehearsing for the former event, the 31-year-old pushed 2017 world outdoor gold medallist Phyllis Francis all the way to the line with a thunderous treading of the boards, just 0.38 seconds adrift of the American who finished in 52.00.
“Definitely I know the change of pace is there,” Doyle said. “That was another good low-52 run. Off the back of last weekend, I know I’ve still got running in my legs. So I’m happy with where I am and excited about next weekend and what that might bring.”
Elsewhere, Jake Wightman tuned up for his 1,500m tilt at world indoors with a personal best of 1:47.69 to come third in the 800m behind three-time world silver medallist Adam Kszczot and former European champion Marcin Lewandowski. “When I saw them take the lead I knew it would take a lot to get back on them,” the Scot said. “But I still feel I have a lot left in this event. I’ll just need to redeem it outdoors now.”
In Birmingham, his rivals will include Chris O’Hare with the double European medallist, who withdrew from Glasgow, coming through a fitness test on his injured foot during a weekend time trial at Loughborough.
However it remains uncertain whether 2012 Olympic medallist Greg Rutherford will chase the lone major title he has yet to win after he came fourth in the long jump with 7.89m, below the 8-metre target he had set himself as a benchmark of his recovery from injury.