The most-decorated athlete in Scottish history was one of the few hoping to benefit from seeing the Games postponed by 12 months due to Covid, providing extra time to recover and rebound following the birth of her first child in January of last year.
Yet the path towards June’s British trials in Manchester is now littered with diversion signs, with the Rio 2016 silver medallist tearing her calf and breaking a toe in the space of three weeks, ruling her initially out of next month’s world relay championships in Poland.
“I tore my calf five weeks ago which we knew could be an issue because I’d torn it before at the world indoors in 2018,” the 34-year-old said.
“I’ve had to do a lot of training at the Emirates Arena with the bends on the track and that might have contributed to it.
“It was quite a bad tear but I just got back to running and doing my drills when I had the freak accident with the toe. I just caught it on the doorframe and I broke it. And since it’s on the same side as my calf, I can’t put any load on it so I had to tell them I wasn’t available for world relays. Which is a shame because I felt I was ready to put in a decent 400m.”
It leaves European indoor medallist Zoey Clark as the lone Scot in the British 4x400 squad for the world relays in Silesia from May 1-2. The recent disruption, Doyle acknowledged, means any ambition to hunt an individual medal in the 400m hurdles in Tokyo is likely now at an end, leaving the team event as her singular target if she is to beat the odds and make the third Olympics of her storied career.
“I won’t be able to get enough quality hurdles session in before the summer even if everything goes to plan,” she confirmed.
“I’m confident I’ll be at the trials. But it’s going to be about doing what I need. I can’t get access to a pool to go aquajogging. I’m on the bike. I’m on the Reformer. I’m in the gym. I’m doing as much as I can. But ultimately I can’t run, which is what I need. I’m doing everything in my power to be ready but I won’t be in spectacular shape.”
Doyle will divert some of her spare time to her role as a trustee of the newly-constituted Athletics Trust Scotland, a charitable spinoff from Scottish Athletics that will aim to raise funds boost the sport’s reach and impact at grassroots.
However as soon as the green light is given, she will throw herself into her Tokyo plans and keep fingers and repaired toes crossed that there is enough races to ease her quickly back into the fray following a longer than expected maternity leave.
“We’ve got a WhatsApp group to let everyone else know where we’re racing so we can get some good competitions,” she said. “Even if I could get one or two races in that would be good.
“I didn’t get to race before the Commonwealth Games in 2018 and still got silver but the last time I’ve raced now was 2019. I’d love if we could even get one in Scotland so we don’t even have to travel.
“But even if I race at trials, I could hopefully come on after that before the Games themselves. I was flying in my last session before the break but it’s still painful now. And with toes, there’s nothing you can do except wait for it to heal.”