Learmonth seeking IAAF World Championship qualifier in Russia

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Guy Learmonth believes a Euro Team Champs appearance in Russia this weekend can help underline his progress over the past 12 months.

A year ago the Scottish 800m runner was preparing for the Commonwealth Games and not one but three successive showdowns with David Rudisha at Hampden which thrust him firmly into the spotlight.

With a British indoors title success and a Euro Indoors appearance in Prague under his belt, Learmonth is now the British Athletics selection for the Cheboksary 2015 event which represents his first senior outdoor appearance for GB.

An unfortunate fall at the Birmingham Grand Prix some 10 days ago cost him the chance of a decent time and Guy has admitted he hopes Russia can help propel him to Beijing later in the summer – with the GB selection standard set at 1.46.00.

‘I am very happy with the GB selection for Cheboksary and everyone is looking forward to the event,’ Guy told www.scottishathletics.org.uk

‘It was in our plan for the summer and now it is happening. We were looking at it during the indoor season and hoping to make Russia on the way to the trials in early July.

‘I want to try and nail that time for Beijing and then look to the trials themselves. I’ve had two months of intense training and now I am ready to go.

‘The Euro Team champs feels like a big event for me. It will be my first experience of an outdoor champs with GB after being at the Euros in Prague. It is all following on well from the Commonwealth Games and those three nights in Glasgow at Hampden.

‘It is always a great honour to represent your country and the big picture is that I want to keep getting the taste of these championship events. Prague has whetted the appetite. This time, in Russia, you are competing for team points as well for GB so there is an extra sense of responsibility I guess.

‘I would like to think I am starting to tick some boxes over the past 12 months or so. Hopefully I am not standing still, I am progressing.

‘You have to perform when it counts and it would be great if GB can do that at the Euro Team Champs – with the six Scots in the team doing well in our various events, too.’

As well as Learmonth, Seattle student Jax Thoirs competes in the pole vault and Andrew Butchart races the 3000m following his recent run at the European 10,000m Cup in Sardinia. Eilidh Child is involved in the 400m Hurdles and the 4 x 400m relay squad while American-based Lennie Waite returns for another 3000m steeplechase appearance.

And it will be a special weekend for discus thrower Kirsty Law, as she wins her first senior British vest a decade or so after playing football for Scotland.

‘I was very keen on football as a youngster and played as a keeper and as a midfielder for Inverness Ladies,’ said Kirsty, 28.

‘Scotland U18s called me as a goalkeeper and I loved that experience even though I was throwing at the time, as well. It came to a head around that time, though, because more often than not I was breaking a finger or hurting my wrist or ankle playing football. I had to choose sports and focus on one or the other.

‘It was a difficult choice because I love playing football so much but I was a good junior athlete, as well, and starting to make GB teams at U20 level. I also won U23 honours with GB but the selection for the Euro Team Champs is my first at Senior level.

‘I am delighted because less than two years ago I was certainly thinking over whether to carry on in athletics. I have always tended to throw great in training, throw great in warm-up and then not so well in competition. It was coming to head prior to Glasgow 2014 because I didn’t know if I would qualify.

‘Thankfully I did do so and after Hampden I then decided to have another go for the next year. I’ve been in America and am in the process of changing coach but this selection certainly gives me another big boost. I still want to see what I can do in the sport.

‘But I’m not a full-time athlete in the professional sense – like some who will be with me in Cheboksary. I work in nursing care and often train in the morning after completing a night-shift.’


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First published on: 18 June, 2015 12:00 am