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Athletics: No easing off as another season looms large for McConnell

Refreshed by a honeymoon in South Africa, Lee McConnell confesses to a sense of invigoration.

The post-Olympic blues, fuelled by disappointment at her performances in London, have been swept away by marital bliss and she will approach the new season with renewed enthusiasm after rejecting the notion of retirement from the sport.

It was a real option, the 34-year-old admits, but there are missions unaccomplished and energies unspent. "A lot of people who have retired say they've come down the track and not wanted to be there any more; I've not reached that day. I'm still passionate about the sport so I feel I should keep going until the body or mind decides it's had enough. At that point, I'll retire."

Glasgow's Commonwealth Games in 2014 has been the driving force behind the decision to carry on, an opportunity for one final swansong. Her mind was made up, even before her Lottery funding was extended for another year because of her integral role in the 400 metres relay squad that came just short of completing her major medal collection in London.

Her first outing of 2013 will come on home terrain. She is to captain the Commonwealth team in the annual British International Match on January 26 at its new home at Glasgow's Emirates Arena. The meeting will provide the first test for UK Athletics' new performance director Neil Black whose plans to centralise the sport's ecosystem in Loughborough have drawn criticism from athletes and coaches alike.

McConnell was once based in the Leicestershire town but decamped after university. She urges the sceptics to give Black's scheme a fair hearing, though.

"There's statistics from rowing and cycling that [indicate that] this model works," she said. "Neil Black believes in it and he's got to be given that chance. Whether it works, time will tell. Hopefully, it will for athletics. But the plan for me is to stay in Glasgow. I wouldn't move at this stage in my career."

Back in the groove of hard toil, McConnell has ambitions for the indoor campaign before her bid to compete at next summer's world championships in Moscow. "I'd like to get a couple of 200s in and get myself selected for the relay team at the European Indoor Championships," she states. No easing off yet.

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