Another major championship; another nightmare on the preparation front for Lynsey Sharp.
Hooked up to an intravenous drip the night before she rose from her sick bed to win that stunning Commonwealth Games 800m silver medal at Hampden Park 11 days ago, the Edinburgh athlete endured a draining 13-hour journey to get to Zurich in the early hours yesterday to defend her European Championship 800m title.
"I left Loughborough at 8am yesterday and eventually got here at just after midnight local time last night," said Sharp, who will at least have the luxury of sitting out the opening day of action at the Letzigrund Stadium today before lining up for the 800m heats tomorrow morning. "I sat in Heathrow for nine hours. I'd lost count of all the time it took by the time I got here."
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Two weeks ago it was the combined effects of sickness and diarrhoea that kept the 24-year-old law graduate up until 5am on the day of her Commonwealth final. This time it was the might of Hurricane Bertha that tested her, resulting
in the cancellation of the scheduled British team flight.
"That's just what this year has been like for me," said Sharp, whose troubled preparation for Glasgow 2014 also included two Achilles operations. "It's just another obstacle. I said
to Stephen Maguire that I was getting really annoyed and he was like, 'You can deal with anything after Glasgow. It's no problem'."
Maguire should know. Now a member of
the British Athletics coaching hierarchy, he
was Scotland's track and field team manager
at the Commonwealth Games. He sat with Sharp while she was hooked up to the IV drip
in hospital before accompanying her back to the athletes' village at dawn - and then watching in wonder as she summoned the fighting spirit that her father has shown since his road accident in 1991.
The question now is whether Cameron Sharp's daughter has enough left in the tank after the emotional rollercoaster of Glasgow to complete a hat trick of family medals from the European Championships. Her father won a 200m silver in Athens in 1982 and Lynsey won 800m silver in Helsinki two years ago which was upgraded to gold after doping abnormalities were discovered in the biological passport of
the Russian winner, Lyudmila Arzhakova.
Asked whether she had to "park" her memories of Glasgow 2014 before heading off on the marathon trip to Zurich, Sharp replied: "Yes, I think so. It was really important after Glasgow to enjoy the moment because I was never going to have that moment again.
But now it feels like the Commonwealth Games was a long time ago. It meant so much to me, with it being in Scotland, but I've drawn a line under it. I'm back to the normal routine. I'm defending my title here, so it's very important that I come into it in good shape."
Sharp has yet to decide whether to repeat her Glasgow trick of writing instructions to herself on her right hand (get out, strong, commit). "My coach, Terrence Mahon, laughed about it afterwards," she recalled. "He said, 'If only people know that you only wrote on your hand because you have such a bad memory'."
Sharp herself was laughing about the
Twitter spat last week with Andy Vernon, who sarcastically responded to one of her posts by tweeting: "You won a medal? You should mention it now and again."
Vernon, who ran for England in the 5000m
in Glasgow and is a GB team-mate of Sharp in Zurich, added that he "didn't use a drip" to get his medals and Sharp responded by calling him "Andy Vermin." Vernon posted a "formal apology" on Twitter and said he would do so
in person. "I've not seen him," Sharp said yesterday. "I think, even in my replies, I was laughing, but I felt I didn't know him well enough for him to take the piss. So I don't even know what it was all about. I can still laugh about it, and hopefully he can."