Amid two years of frustration and toil, some wrote Lynsey Sharp off as a contender. At times, she was a sceptic herself. No longer, however, is the 29-year-old mired in the middle of the pack. The former European champion has resurrected the self-belief to charge ahead and let others take their shot and it was evident in the latest in a string of assured performances at yesterday’s Diamond League in Birmingham.
A late ferocious charge from the Scot spirited her into second place behind her American rival Ajee Wilson in the 800 metres, with the time of 2:01.09 encumbered by strong winds. A week out from the British Championships which double as the trials for next month’s world championships in Doha, this was a valuable examination of her credentials – and she passed with flying colours.
“I had to adjust my race tactics and just run smart but that was a good practice for the world semi-finals,” she said, confident that she will earn selection without due concern. “But I have the belief now to go out fast and then hold it together. I was always able to do it last year but then, in the second half, it fell apart. It’s nice to be able to finish it off and not worry about people catching me. Now it’s me catching people.”
This followed showings in London and Monaco where the times impressed but the attitude stood out more. Rehabilitated following her decision to relocate back to the UK following the gamble of a move to California that did not pay off as she wished, she is now a contender in an event which has opened up enticingly following the legal blockade that has removed Caster Semenya and others from their habitual spot at the head of the field.
Suddenly, Sharp has realistic ambition to land medals again. “I feel I’m in a different place,” she said. “I’ve got the tools in my box that I didn’t have last year.”
Eilish McColgan was worried she might crash after coming down from training at altitude but instead she surged to third place in the mile. The Dundonian lowered her personal best to 4:24.71 with Jemma Reekie in sixth. Now, all can be thrown towards Doha, ideally by excelling in the 5,000m next weekend.
“I’m looking forward to trials now,” McColgan, pictured inset, said. “Hopefully this has got me enough points to get into Zurich [Diamond League meeting late this month] as well, which is nice.”
Chris O’Hare’s tune-up for the British Championships fell flat as he trailed in tenth in the men’s 1,500m, while Guy Learmonth came up short in his chase for the qualifying mark for the worlds in finishing fifth in the 800m in 1:46.50. The processes, the Borderer reflected, may need more than minor refinements.
“I need to start analysing my races properly and sitting down and watching other people, world-class athletes who have retired,” he said. “Because I haven’t done any of that. I watch UFC and boxing instead.”
Elsewhere, Adam Gemili ran 10.07 seconds in the 100m, the same time as Jamaican Yohan Blake, but was given second in a photo finish. Dina Asher-Smith was second in the women’s 200m behind Shaunae Miller-Uibo but the blue-haired Bahaman revealed she’ll skip the event in Doha in a boost to the Briton’s chances of gold.
At the Scottish Championships in Grangemouth, Neil Gourley tuned up for the intensive 1,500m scrap in prospect at the UK trials by winning the 800m in 1:48.79. Nick Percy and Kirsty Law won the discus titles, while a solo run from Sarah Inglis took her to the 1,500m title in 4:13.44.