Published – 24th July, 2015
Athletics has always been prominent throughout my life. I remember as a kid watching the Olympic Games and being utterly in awe at the athletes. More vividly, I recall watching the great Gebrselassie of Ethiopia and Tergat of Kenya, battling to the line at the Sydney Olympics – fifteen years ago. I loved how effortlessly they floated down the track and how determined they were to win. I decided there and then, at the age of nine – I wanted to be an athlete. Never in my wildest dreams, did I believe athletics would end up moulding my entire life and that I would be competing in these prestigious events, travelling all around the world.
Not many athletes have the privilege of competing in a home games. I’ve been given the opportunity not once, but twice – which is completely surreal. The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games were beyond anything I could ever imagine. The experience of London really educated me as an athlete and I felt I was prepared for anything. The reality is, you can do your best to visualise it all, walking out into the stadium with 40,000 Scottish fans cheering your name – but the actuality of it all, is an entirely different story. You can’t prepare for it. It’s a memory that I will cherish for the rest of my years and something I probably wont experience again. The sound was deafening. It was challenging to try and remain focussed on the job at hand but once your name is announced and the crowd responds – it’s tough to remain emotionless. Standing on the start line, I started to feel a little overwhelmed but experience kicked in and I became oblivious to it all. Zoning out – I focused on my breathing and prioritising the feel of the track under my feet rather than the surrounding noise.
It’s always strange after a major championship as you become accustomed to living in a competition bubble. You stay in an apartment with fellow athletes, have set dining times to eat, laundry units and social areas. It becomes a way of life with the outside world becoming a faint memory. Once the Games end – it’s sometimes difficult to slip back into normal life again and many athletes go through a post-games blues, struggling after all the excitement surrounding the last few weeks of their lives. Being a part of the Games hasn’t created any change within my life apart from the fond memories I will always hold. Unfortunately after Glasgow, funding within Athletics was cut and so we no longer have financial support from Scotland, like we had in previous years. Sponsorship was more accessible before Glasgow because companies wanted to have a slice of the action and be a part of the Games. With the conclusion of the Games, sponsorship also ceased. Last year, I had six sponsors to help assist my 2014 journey – after the games, I was left with two. In preparation for the 2016 Olympic Games – i’ll have one. Money is tight at the moment in all walks of life due to the current economic climate and unfortunately sport is hit hard too.
Sadly, my 2015 season was brought to abrupt halt after breaking my ankle at the beginning of the year. Seven months later, the bone healing was still very problematic and so I made the decision to undergo surgery. I now have a total of seven pins in my left foot, concreting the bones together like a small version of the terminator! My attention has visioned in on 2016. This injury has been a major learning curve – the same mistakes wont be made again. It will be a race against the clock but I have confidence in my ability to get back healthy, fit and on that start line in Brazil. I will continue to be a full time athlete in order to give myself the best preparations preceding the Olympics. Not many athletes get the chance to participate, in not one but twoOlympic Games in their careers. This isn’t something I’m going to let slip by. It’s more demanding to do things alone, but I have saved up enough to get me to the games. You can’t put a price on your dreams.
Looking ahead to the future fills me with excitement. I believe my journey is only beginning. Female athletes are competing well into their 40s so I have a long time left in the sport. I will certainly start to eye up the longer distances and who knows – maybe i’ll end up competing at the 2020 Olympics, in Tokyo! The prospect of competing in the same city where my mum won her World title in 1991, would mean the world to me. Who knows, maybe i’ll be competing in the same event, the 10,000m. But for now, my eyes are firmly set on Rio.