Scotland’s latest athletics sensation Beth Dobbin will fulfil a lifetime dream next weekend when she pulls on a Great Britain vest for the first time and gets to race at the iconic London Stadium.
The 24-year-old became British 200m champion in Birmingham a week ago with a stunning performance which saw her again twice lower a Scottish record which had stood for 34 years after already breaking it two times in the previous month.
Dobbin took the record down from 22.83 to 22.75 in the heats and then smashed it again with a 22.59 run in the final which saw her edge out Bianca Williams and Jodie Williams to the British title.
It sealed Dobbin’s place in the European Championship team heading to Berlin next month and has also earned her selection in the new World Cup event which takes place next Saturday and Sunday.
It is a sweet moment for the Yorkshire-raised athlete, who rejected the chance to run for England as a junior, following the bitter disappointment of not being chosen for Scotland’s Commonwealth Games team.
The daughter of former Celtic footballer Jim Dobbin will now get to represent GB against United States, Jamaica, France, Germany, Poland, China and South Africa.
“The only big stadium I’ve ever been to for athletics was watching at Hampden for the Commonwealth Games,” she explained. “To be in that London Stadium will be amazing, it’s become a special place for British athletics with the Olympics and the worlds last year.
“I’ve seen on TV how much support the home athletes get there and I can’t wait to get a taste of it.”
Dobbin has spent the past week trying to come to terms with the fact she is now British champion, having set a new event record in the absence of the country’s star female sprinter, Dina Asher-Smith, who chose to just run the 100m.
“I’m still having moments when I’m thinking wow, did that actually happen?” said Dobbin.
“I was very stressed the week before. I knew some of the girls had run just a bit quicker than me in Geneva, but with a plus two wind on their back so I felt that the time I had going in was about the same. After the heats when I eased down to the 22.7 I really thought this could be my race.
“In the final when I kicked off the behind but was a bit behind and I was thinking I may have messed it up but I stayed relaxed and found something to come through and just take it. The worst thing you can do in that situation is tighten up.
“The girls I was racing have quicker times than me over the 100m so my coach did say that I might be a good bit behind at halfway. Bianca [Williams] ran an 11.20 the day before and I’m nowhere near an 11.20 runner. So he prepared me for that and told me to stay relaxed and trust my finish. That’s what I did and dipped like a mad woman!”
Dobbin’s breakthrough year means she can now look forward to kicking her athletics career on after years of struggling for funding.
“I’m in a different position to a lot of the other athletes. I’ve never had a GB vest, I’m working full-time so that makes it even more special. I feel like I defied the odds,” she said.
There was a squad of 15 family and friends in the Alexander Stadium stands last Sunday, including her parents, grandad, brother and sister. Not much time for celebrations though as she was up at 6am on the Monday to work in a school, where she helps children with autism in addition to a reception job at Loughborough University, where she trains after graduating with a psychology degree.
“I didn’t sleep much. I was buzzing. I watched the TV coverage back, God knows how many times my mum and dad have watched it now,” said Dobbin, whose performance was picked out by former Olympic champion Denise Lewis as her highlight of the trials weekend.
“It was incredible when they were talking about me after the race,” continued Dobbin. “I was like, I can’t believe Dina Asher-Smith knows who I am, she’s my idol. And that was brilliant for someone like Denise to have said that. They had probably not heard of me until this year.”
Laura Muir is one of the notable absentees from the 29-strong British team next weekend as well as Adam Gemili, Asher-Smith , Zharnel Hughes, Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake.
Dai Greene, Sophie Hitchon and Andrew Pozzi will be involved, however.
UK Athletics chief Niels de Vos is confident the World Cup will build over the years.
“It will be a success,” he said. “It’s the first time it’ll be done – the Ryder Cup and Rugby World Cup have come an enormous distance and this can do likewise over the next 10, 20 years.
“People sometimes are uncomfortable with the new, and look for the weakness, but there’s so much to be pleased about. Dina Asher-Smith isn’t doing the 200m but Beth Dobbin, the girl who is, set a British Championship record, so she’s run faster than Dina’s ever run at a British Championship.”