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Sharp hopeful of getting up to speed in time to chase down a Commonwealth medal

HER European gold, finally, has pride of place in her medal display at home and, now that she has a Commonwealth Games qualifying time to her name, Lynsey Sharp can turn her attention to the prizes on offer at home and abroad this summer.

Lynsey Sharp: 'I'm racing a lot more positively now'
Lynsey Sharp: 'I'm racing a lot more positively now'

The race back to peak fitness might prove just as tough as any she has run since chasing a drug-fuelled Yelena Arzhakova home in Helsinki two summers ago. The two competitions she will enter at Hampden Park will not be cakewalks either and there is a danger that over-inflated expectations could come to define her year. But she is feeling positive after a long year of deflating and frustrating setbacks.

The 23-year-old confirmed her involvement yesterday in the Sainsbury's Glasgow Grand Prix, the prestigious Diamond League meeting that will give Hampden the chance to stage a dummy run on July 11 and 12. During a conference call to promote the event she said that in some ways she felt stronger now than she did in 2012, prior to her wearying series of injury problems.

She was hesitant, though, when asked if she can still achieve 100% peak fitness by next month. She had been in hospital on antibiotics as recently as April after the scar tissue from two operations on her lower leg became infected under the skin.

Mercifully, that hiccup would not prevent her achieving a time of 2min 2.42sec in Belgium which was just inside the Games qualifying mark, nor a more impressive 2:01.67 in Manchester that was only 1.15secs slower than her lifetime best from 2012.

"I'm racing a lot more positively now and I'm more mature as an athlete," she said "I think I'm in  a pretty good place right now.

"My only target for this period was to achieve the qualifying time so I feel like I have exceeded expectations so far this season. I'm enjoying racing and I'm really looking forward to trying things in more races. I'm in pretty good shape considering everything I've been through.

"I've got a good eight weeks now until the Games, which is a long time in terms of training, so if I'm already in good shape now I've got every confidence that I'll be in pretty good shape come the Games."

The first time she runs at Hampden, Sharp will probably be up against some very handy Russians and Americans. The Commonwealth Games will serve up the challenge of numerous speedy Africans, including the world champions Eunice Sum and Caster Semenya. England's Jessica Judd and Scotland's Laura Muir will also be at the European champion's heels, and she knows it.

"The 800m is a really strong event, not just around the world but in England and in Scotland as well," said Sharp. "It's a really exciting time to be in the sport and I think the Sainsbury's Grand Prix is almost going to be like a warm-up for the Games, a chance for us to see the venue and compete in front of a home crowd and get familiar with Hampden as an athletics arena.

"With the Commonwealths, people will probably think that with the Russians missing, it will be weak but nothing could be further from the truth. The Kenyans have already run pretty fast this year."

One member of that great running dynasty, Florence Kiplagat, yesterday stated her desire to grace the Commonwealth Games this summer. "I am on form and if I get a chance to represent Kenya in Scotland, I will be very happy. For now I am focusing on doing well at the national games and trials," said Kiplagat, the world half-marathon record-holder and 10,000m specialist.

Lynsey Sharp will join the world's best athletes including Mo Farah, Greg Rutherford, Christine Ohuruogu and Yohan Blake at the Sainsbury's Glasgow Grand Prix on July 11-12. Tickets via britishathletics.org.uk

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