Athletics: Olympics slot has Lynsey Sharp on cloud nine

Lynsey Sharp: Has made the cut for Team GB. Picture: Getty
Lynsey Sharp: Has made the cut for Team GB. Picture: Getty
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A TOTALLY shocked Lynsey Sharp expressed her delight today after hearing the news that Britain’s athletics selectors had taken the brave and most unexpected decision to choose her for the London Olympics.

Sharp’s selection comes despite the fact that she had not achieved the strict A qualifying standard of 1:59.90 for the 800 metres set by UK Athletics. She has hit only a B standard, though she had won the official trial and then taken the silver medal in last week’s European Championships in Helsinki.

“It’s crazy – I wasn’t expecting it – it’s a big decision for them to take,” she said. In naming the 21-year-old, Edinburgh AC member with a B standard of 2:00.52, Britain’s selectors, under the terms of their own rules, have had to reject the claims of three athletes with the A standard: Marilyn Okoro the fastest Briton this season with a time of 1:59.33, but with a dreadful record of tactical blunders – she again “blew up” in the UK trial after setting a suicidal pace in the first lap and finished fifth – Jenny Meadows, the experienced British internationalist with a proven record in major events but has not raced at all this year due to an Achilles injury and Emma Jackson, another runner who has been under two minutes this year but was ill at the time of the UK Trial.

Sharp, who will be joined by three other Scottish women at London 2012 in Eilidh Child (400m hurdles), Eilish McColgan (3000m steeplechase) and Lee McConnell (400m and 4x400m), said: “To pick me they had to de-select four women who had A standards but that’s what they have done. I want to thank them for having such enormous faith in me and now I am absolutely determined not to let them down.”

“I feel bad about those athletes who have missed out. I know I don’t need to but I can’t help it.”

Sharp set a PB of 2.00.52 in Helsinki last Friday and believes she can break the two-minute barrier before the Games begin in London at the end of the month.

“I think the great thing is: I feel my season is just taking off,” said the Edinburgh AC athlete, who trained in a tunnel in the capital last winter with the Olympics in mind. “My coach, Dave Sunderland, has been telling me all along that if I made the team for London I would be in the peak of condition.

“I feel that is the case and hopefully I can run under the two-minute barrier in the countdown to London. But I need to do more training. I don’t think people understand that the 800m is a technical, tactical event. If you are half a second too slow or half a second too fast on the first lap it can make all the difference as to where you finish.”

McConnell was named as expected for the 4 x 400m relay and as the “discretionary pick” by Charles van Commenee, the Dutch coach of Team GB, for the 400m individual after finishing third in the trials .

“I was always confident about the relay place but was pleasantly surprised to get the pick for the individual,’ said McConnell.

There was disappointment, however, for Steph Twell with the Scottish Commonwealth Games medallist from Delhi unable to run in Helsinki last week and discounted for selection on fitness grounds after making it to Beijing when she was only 18.

Mark Dry missed out as well to rival Alex Smith with only one hammer thrower selected – the Englishman won the AVIVA Trials and was picked on the strength of that.

While the representation of four athletes matches the record from 2008 and 1992, it is worth noting Freya Murray could yet land a slot in the marathon with the Scot unofficially on stand-by in case of an injury to the three British picks in that event.