In recent summers, the Scot’s races seemed stuck on pause or repeat. Athletically gifted as ever, but powerless too often when knives were drawn and the true fight began. “But I’m in a different place now,” she said. “I feel I’m much more adaptable to different racing because I’ve got the tools in my box I didn’t have last year.”
That gives the 29-year-old confidence heading into this weekend’s UK Athletics Championships in Birmingham, where the true reward on offer is selection for the forthcoming worlds in Doha. Sharp has claimed the UK 800 metres title three times. The last, however, arrived in 2014 with pickings slim ever since. Yet fine outings in Monaco and London underlined the plausibility of her case to pick up a first global medal, with the odds vastly trimmed by the exclusion of habitually-omnipotent Caster Semenya and other inter-sex foes in the IAAF’s controversial purge.
That, and a replenished self-belief, has dared Sharp to dream. “But there are still boxes to tick along the way. There’s this weekend. There’s six weeks then to stay fit and healthy.”
With Laura Muir missing the trials due to injury, training partner Jemma Reekie will pursue the women’s 1,500m title, with Andy Butchart favourite in today’s 5,000m final.
The most ferocious battle of the two days could come in the men’s 1,500m with the Caledonian cabal of Jake Wightman, Chris O’Hare, Neil Gourley and Josh Kerr – plus top-ranked Charlie Da’Vall Grice – scrambling for world selection.
“It’s going to be really interesting isn’t it?” said Wightman. “There’s five of us going for three places. Josh and Neil have been running really well in the States. You know Chris will come prepared. And Charlie is always tough. But that’s what you want isn’t it?”