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Athletics: Child set to go flat out

THERE are not many people who could sum up such a colossal year in the 140 character limit required of Twitter, but on Hogmanay, Eilidh Child valiantly gave it a go.

Eilidh Child is aiming to run a personal best in Glasgow on Saturday   Photograph: Getty
Eilidh Child is aiming to run a personal best in Glasgow on Saturday Photograph: Getty

"Highlights of 2012: Sister's book, cousin got married, both sisters got married, Olympics, Scottish record & Hearts winning the Scottish Cup!" she wrote.

It is difficult to imagine how 2013 could come close, but the Perth-born 400m hurdler is game to try. Fresh from a three-week warm weather training camp in South Africa, Child will line up for the British Athletics International Match in Glasgow on Saturday.

The 5000 ticket sell-out at the Emirates Arena, in which Great Britain and Northern Ireland go head-to-head with Germany, Russia, the USA and a Commonwealth select, will see Child compete on the flat over 400m as part of a master plan devised by her mentor and coach Malcolm Arnold.

"We reviewed the season last year and felt that I wasn't attacking as well as I could have been," she said. "I wasn't going out as fast over the first 200m as I would have liked. Malcolm thought I should do an indoor season. He thought it would be good practice to get it into my head about getting out hard and fast."

It is almost six months since Child, 25, made her Olympic debut and she has since had plenty of time to reflect on the heartache of not making the final. Had she repeated the personal best of 54.96 set in Geneva last June, Child would have finished sixth in London. On the day, however, she only made it to the semi-final.

"I was really disappointed, but I'm just trying to take on the positives and learning aspects," she said. "Looking back, I was perhaps just content to make the Olympic team, rather than making sure I ran my best there. Maybe I was a bit complacent. That said, it's hard to be pleased as an athlete unless you win gold."

What she does draw from the Olympics is that with only one Commonwealth athlete – Kaliese Spencer of Jamaica – finishing faster than Child's own PB, things appear promising for Glasgow 2014.

"When it comes to the Commonwealth Games we lose the Russians and Americans who are strong in my event; obviously we still have the Jamaicans, but it does bode well looking towards next year," said Child. "Hopefully if I can keep fit and training the way I'm going, there's no reason why I can't do well in Glasgow."

Child is keen to claim a regular spot in the GB squad, firstly at March's European Indoor Champ-ionships and then at the World Championships in Moscow in the summer. "Getting to the final at the world champs is going to be the big thing," she said. "The last couple of years I've said it would be good to make the final, but I think now I should be making them. I want to lower my PBs, get the Scottish record again and keep progressing."

Her move south to Bath University in late 2011 under the tutelage of Arnold, whose elite coaching group includes men's world champion Dai Greene, has allowed the former PE teacher to blossom. "I have grown up quite a lot over the past year because I had to move away from home and become a full-time athlete," she said. "My priorities have changed. Everything I do is geared towards my athletics. I have become a lot more switched on and a lot more focused."

Team-mate and 2008 Olympic champ-ion Christine Ohuruogu, who Child trains alongside as part of Britain's 4x400m relay squad, has also left a lasting impression. "Nothing seems to faze her," she said. "She's a true champion and so matter of fact about things. She doesn't get nervous. She's very good at giving advice if you want it and taking you under her wing."

While reticent to be drawn on what time she aims to post on Saturday, Child confirmed she is gunning for an indoor PB. "You never know what is going to happen, this is new territory for me, but I'm in good shape and there's no reason why I can't," she said. "I'm up against an excellent field too, so everything is there to help me get a PB."

Child will be joined in action in the 400m by British team-mate Perri Shakes-Drayton, with fellow Scot Lee McConnell competing in the 200m. High jumper Robbie Grabarz, pole vaulter Holly Bleasdale and world indoor triple jump champion, Yamile Aldama, are also among the confirmed line-up.

Veteran St Kitts and Nevis sprinter Kim Collins, a former world 100m champion, will be challenging the 200m, while America's Carmelita Jeter, one of the stars of the 2012 Olympic Games with three medals, will compete in the 60m.

o The British Athletics International Match will be shown live on Saturday, BBC1, 1.30pm-4.30pm

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