Eilidh Doyle today claimed she can now picture herself a the Olympics this summer – even after missing out on another morale-boosting victory in a photo finish at yesterday’s Diamond League meeting in Birmingham.
Pitreavie’s European champion delivered another sensational showing in the sunshine to underline her return to top form, leading right to the end of the 400 metres hurdles before Stateside rival Cassandra Tait snatched the win with both given a time of 54.47 seconds.
It was another example of hard work paying off, the 29-year-old Edinburgh University graduate insisted, with her second place in the overall Diamond Race standings providing a massive lift as the countdown to Rio ticks down.
“It’s great,” Doyle said. “I didn’t have any points last year so it’s great to just be on the board and I think that’s put me first or second.
“I’m in a great place, everything is going well. I’m just trying to get some good races under my belt then get ready for the trials and secure that spot on the plane to Rio. It was a good strong race, it was a bit windy so it’s not ideal for hurdling. I felt like I put together a good race.”
With less than three weeks to the Olympic trials at the Alexander Stadium, the Scottish record holder will now rest up. But she’s confident her latest technical tweaks will give her a smooth ride to Rio.
“We’ve done a lot more hurdling this winter in the build-up and it seems to be paying off now. What we’ve done differently is drop one of my gym sessions and done one more on the track and that’s really helped with my speed.”
There was a top-class effort from Central AC’s Andy Butchart who landed the Scottish 3000 metres record, two weeks after bagging the 5000m mark.
The Rio hopeful was fourth as Mo Farah removed Dave Moorcroft’s 34-year-old UK best from the books to hint he’s in shape to defend his two Olympic titles.
But Butchart, whose time of 7:45.00 surpassed the 1984 best of Scotand’s John Robson’s 1984, claimed it is just one more step to his ultimate goal of joining Farah in Brazil in August.
“I’m happy with the personal best,” he said. “I came here to try and compete, I was never going to win the race but I’m really happy with my performance. I’m feeling really confident, my training is going well and I’ve obviously been racing well so I guess I’ve got to keep it going, I’m not there yet, there’s still lots of hurdles to jump over and I’m hopeful that I can keep going the way I am going.”
Lynsey Sharp dipped under two minutes in the 800 metres for the third time in three weeks to come fourth in 1:59.29 as Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba pulled clear. But the Capital star insists her sole focus is on securing her Rio berth.
“It was a bit of a bumpy race so to run that time is good,” she said. “It is nice to be regularly running under two minutes but it is back to training to prepare for the British Championships in a few weeks.”
Sharp’s Edinburgh AC club-mate Jake Wightman came up short in his chase for an Olympic qualifying standard but earned the mark for next month’s European Championships in running a season’s best of 3:37.53 to come ninth in a stacked 1500 metres.
“It wasn’t as quick as I was hoping for but I got it a bit wrong tactically and I had to make it back but I couldn’t quite manage it,” he said. “I need to be able to run with the best if I want to make it on the world stage and I’m not quite there yet but hopefully I will be as the season progresses. You don’t get many more chances to impress than this and it’s nice to do it at home.”