Lynsey Sharp has gold in her sights for 4x400m relay
For some athletes, the Commonwealth Games presents podium opportunities that would be out of reach at a world championships or Olympics, but Lynsey Sharp knows she faces a big challenge in repeating her medal-winning heroics from Glasgow 2014.
Sharp finished behind three Commonwealth runners in the London world championship during the summer – Caster Semenya of South Africa, Margaret Wambui of Kenya and Melissa Bishop of Canada – and is expecting fierce competition on Australia’s Gold Coast in April.
The Edinburgh 27-year-old helped launch the Team Scotland official uniform with her 5000m runner boyfriend Andrew Buthcart yesterday, modelling the bespoke tartan of blue, purple, magenta and green. The women’s outfits have been given a modern twist by 24-year-old Siobhan Mackenzie, who was named Best New Scottish Designer in 2016.
It all served to bring home how close she is to competing in a second Commonwealth Games following her dramatic success at Hampden, when she bounced back from the dehydration and sickness which had caused her to be on a drip on the eve of her final to storm to a silver medal.
“It definitely doesn’t feel like four years since Glasgow. Glasgow is all I know in terms of Commonwealths so it’s going to be quite hard to beat,” said Sharp, whose famous marker scrawled motivational message of “Get out strong, commit” is now a permanent tattoo on her wrist.
“We were totally spoiled having a home crowd, the memories that were made were unbelievable. This is completely different.
“But I’m looking forward to it and hopefully it’s a bit more fun this year. I remember [coach] Terrence (Mahon) saying ‘trust you to make a dramatic story out of it’. I was like ‘I didn’t do it for attention, I did it because you told me to have words in my head and that was the easiest way for me, to have it there’.”
With peerless world champion Caster Semenya stating that she will be going for the 800m-1500m double in Australia, Sharp is under no illusions about the size of the task ahead.
“It is a really strong event in the Commonwealth. But it was strong in Glasgow, too,” she said. “The winner then [Eunice Sum] was world champion the following year and there were other class runners in there. Everyone will face the same challenges with it being in April. It’s very different for all of us, you don’t know what shape everyone is going to be in. It’s more open than it was if it had been in August.”
With her sprinter father Cameron Sharp winning five Commonwealth medals during his career, including relay gold at Edmonton 1978, the event holds a special place and the daughter is keen to follow in her father’s footsteps and get her hands on her own bit of relay bling in the 4x400m.
“We don’t get the opportunity to compete for Scotland that often and, especially in my family, there is such a history of the Commonwealth Games that I would never, ever, ever miss it for anything,” she said. “It means the world for me to compete for Scotland, to be part of this team – and to see how people have progressed since Glasgow.
“I’m really excited to have a 4x400 squad as well. We had one in Glasgow but didn’t make the final. I can’t do the heats in the Gold Coast, because the heats as they are in the morning of the 800 final. So I will only do the final if we get there and if selected. I’d love to be part of that.
“My 400 PB isn’t that great but give me a baton and a running start and I’ll be confident of competing.
“We have half the GB world championships silver-winning team in Eilidh Doyle and Zoey Clark so I was in [Scottish Athletics performance director] Rodger Harkins’ ear about picking a team for the relay since the summer. I was saying to him: ‘We’ve got half the GB team from the World Championships – surely that is strong enough.’
“I think England are going to be a bit weakened, with a couple of athletes not available so there is definitely a medal up for grabs in the 4x400.”
Whatever unfolds for Sharp in a few months, one thing you can be sure of is it won’t be dull.
“Everyone jokes about it with me, saying: ‘It wouldn’t be you without drama’,” she said with a smile. “Even this year in London, getting disqualified [in the semi-final] then reinstated [for the final], there is always something.
“But I flourish in that atmosphere. If it takes drama to be successful, I’ll take that. Maybe not spending the night before my final on a drip, though!”