“After winning the Northern Championships in an indoor personal best time of 2:10.22 for 800 metres, which at the time ranked me 2nd in the UK, I was thrilled to be selected to race for England in an International Meeting in Bratislava on January 30th.
“The excitement was building in the lead up to the day, especially when all of my England kit arrived by courier to my house. I spent much of the afternoon trying on all the various arrangements and having a mini photo shoot in the garden, trying to decide what combination I looked best in. Seeing “England Athletics Team” on the various garments made me feel especially proud and I knew I would feel very honoured to pull on my England kit when it was time to race.
“We met at the airport the day before the meeting and I was introduced to the team managers and the other athletes on the team; of whom several others were debutants. However, there were also several, as I call them “legends” on the team, in the sense that they have competed for Great Britain at major Championships, so I was keen to speak to them and embark on their wealth of experience from such events.
“The hotel in Bratislava was better than I had been led to believe, but still resembled something from the former Communist Eastern Bloc Countries in the 1980s. It was literally like being in a time warp!! However, as an aspiring top-level athlete, I have to get used to this and be able to cope with anything that is thrown at me, so it was all good experience.
“I did not feel I ran that well in my race, recording 2:11.44 for 6th place. The leaders took the race out at a ridiculously fast pace – passing through 400 metres within world indoor record pace – and therefore it became a case of trying to hold on for as long as possible. I hung off the pace, but still found myself getting dragged into going far too fast in the initial stages and I consequently struggled. However, determined to do my best for my country, I didn’t give up and worked as hard as I could all the way to the end, and ended up overtaking two athletes with faster pre-race times in the final 50m. Although I felt I had struggled and I was disappointed with my time, the team managers were pleased with me as I finished two places higher than my pre-race ranking. Everyone had misjudged the pace, so no athlete was particularly pleased with their time. Why everyone went so fast I will never know. I had learned two things from the race. Firstly, that I need to work on my pacing and secondly that I am not yet in world record shape!
“It was a great experience to be in such a fast race and I hope that it will stand me in good stead for my domestic races later this summer. It was a big step up in my first winter focussing on 800 metres and I certainly did not feel overwhelmed by the occasion, although I had hoped to do better.
“I have a few more races planned this indoor season, where I really want to keep improving my time and win a medal in the BUCS Indoor Championships. It is going to be hard, but that is what I am concentrating on if I am feeling good on the day. Further ahead, I plan to take a short rest after my final indoor race to try and refresh myself and get myself back feeling good ready to hit the training hard in the lead up to the outdoor season.
“Racing for my country has been a target of mine since I first started the sport as a 13-year-old, so it really was something very special to me. I really want to use this experience to make me a better athlete and I hope that I can stay healthy, keep improving and go on to bigger and better things over the coming years.”