21 July 2016
Just two weeks or so from the Opening Ceremony of the Rio Olympics, I’m looking forward to my final pre-Games competition at the London Diamond League this weekend before I finalise my preparations for the big one.
As those of you who have read my previous blogs will know competing at the Olympic Games has been a dream of mine from as long as I can remember, so to be in the verge of making my Olympic debut is hugely exciting.
Since my last blog I have a lot to catch up on. I’ve been based in Europe for almost seven weeks, firstly in Cologne, Germany before moving on to North Devon in England – home of my husband’s parents. I enjoyed my time based in Cologne spending lots of time with some Australian athletes and Liz Lamb, the Kiwi high jumper. But it is great to now be back reunited with my husband, Sam, in North Devon after a month apart. We have enjoyed some great training time together and spent some lovely time with his parents, although we are missing running with our dog Tux though!
I’ve also competed six times in five countries and although some of the performances have been a little mixed - a 1500m PB in Turku and an 800m season’s best time in my last outing in Liege fills me with confidence that I’m rounding into good shape at the right time.
My first three races in Europe were mixed. I started out racing a tactical 800m in bad conditions in Lucerne, Switzerland. After going through in a very slow first lap (64 seconds) I crossed the line seventh in 2:04.62 – which was not the race I wanted.
I bounced back to run much better in my next race in Nivelles, Belgium. There I ran a solid 2:01.86 for third, although I was disappointed with my next two-lap race in Madrid, where I ran 0.06 slower. In temperatures of around 30c, I managed to pass the Cuban girl and get to the front with 350m left, but started to struggle in the final 200m. I was not able to react when the girls went passed me. I finished seventh, but I can take positives from the fact I got myself in good position during the race.
I next moved on to Turku in Finland for my first 1500m of the European season. My endurance training had gone well and it was great to compete in front of a large, passionate crowd. The Australian Genevieve LaCaze did a great pacemaking job, and although I dropped off a little on the third lap, I managed to hit back on the final lap to move from fifth to second and record a PB of 4:07.83 – 0.63 quicker than my previous best. I was very close to the Olympic qualification B standard of 4:07:00 and although I was on the roll down top 45 for the event – which would allow me to qualify for Rio – my coach and I took the decision not to take up the opportunity to compete in the 1500m. This is because the 800m takes place after the 1500m and we didn’t want to jeopardise my 800m hopes. If the two events would have been the other way around then we would have seriously looked at also competing in the 1500m.
Eleven days later I ran seven seconds slower for the 1500m - albeit in very windy conditions in Solihull, England – before moving on to compete over 800m in Liege. I was excited to compete as I was up against a good quality field including American Molly Ludlow (who ran 1:57.68 for fourth in Monaco last week). My travel to the meet before the event had been a little fraught and I only arrived after midnight the day of the race. Thankfully, I slept well and I tried as hard as I could to follow the pace – crossing the line in second behind Molly in a season’s best 2:00.62.
I was both relieved and happy to run a sub-2:01 time. This proves to me everything is heading in the right direction in my desire to reach a peak for Rio.
Training has been going well. Under Maria’s coaching over the past year we’ve slightly increased the mileage, added a few more double runs and put in some marginally longer reps. More recently I’ve carried out some full on sessions with slightly longer recoveries to sharpen my pure speed. I’m also happy to say that earlier this week I recorded a PB for a 600m time trial, which gives me further optimism everything is on track for when it counts in Rio.
I’m also thrilled to receive an invite to compete in the London Diamond League. I have such fond memories of competing there three years ago in what was my Diamond league debut.
At the 2013 edition, it must have been one of the biggest crowds I’ve ever competed in front of and I will never forget meeting Usain Bolt, even if I was slightly starstruck to be staying in the meet hotel around all the other superstar athletes. I enjoyed a solid race to run two minutes flat and place fifth and I loved everything about the experience.
Three years on and although it is still a great privilege to compete in the race and to be around the stars of the sport, I will hopefully not be so overwhelmed by the experience. In terms of what I would like to achieve in London, I have to focus on positioning myself well, finishing strongly and racing fast and hopefully my performance there will act as the perfect springboard for Rio.
I can’t believe we are now so close to Rio. I’m really excited and looking forward to arriving in Brazil. After London, and being reunited with Maria we fly out to Mannheim in Germany to join the New Zealand team in pre-camp before flying out to Rio on August 10. My family will fly to Rio soon after.
I think I’m in pretty good shape at the moment and I hope in the next couple of weeks I can be in the best shape I’ve ever been in for Rio.
What do I hope to achieve?
Well, I need to take it one step at a time. The aim is to make it out of the heat and then if I make the semi-final the ambition is to reach the final. That would be the dream. I love championship racing and hopefully I can deliver my best in Rio and make my country and family proud.