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Athletics: Partridge keeping up with Jones

In three months' time, Susan Partridge will line up on Glasgow Green for what she expects to be 26 miles to remember.

Susan Partridge has found new belief since working with Steve Jones
Susan Partridge has found new belief since working with Steve Jones

For all the accomplishments accrued by the 34-year-old from Oban, including a 10th place at last year's world championships in Moscow, the start of the Commonwealth Games marathon will catapult her to the forefront of the nation for a little over two-and-a-half hours as Scotland's brightest hope at the distance.

Expectations, given her recent form, will never be greater. Some may buckle under such strain. Partridge, based in Leeds, has been taught to shrug it off by someone who never let his relentless push for quicker times and greater success get derailed by the attention. Steve Jones never claimed an international medal with a fourth place at the 1990 Commonwealths in Auckland the closest he would come. Yet his British record of 2:07:13 has stood since 1985 with not even the recent assault of Mo Farah seizing it from his grasp.

The Welshman, now living in the Colorado town of Boulder, has a vested interest in this morning's events on the other side of the Atlantic at the Bupa Great Edinburgh Run with Partridge and Freya Ross, both among his long-distance pupils, heading the field.

For the Scottish pair, the elongated 10-mile circuit is a stepping stone towards their expected summer reunion. Jones, Partridge says, has been a major factor in her push from merely good to almost great through his character and the insight of experience.

"I have someone else who is worrying about the bigger picture," Partridge says. "I have someone else who knows how this will all translate into the marathon in Glasgow. That's good. We speak maybe every couple of weeks. But it is nice when I see him. He's very motivational and inspirational when we sit down and chat about what I'm capable of. He manages to make you believe. If he says you're that good, you must be that good because Steve says so. It gives you a little more confidence."

Less a psychologist, more a transplant surgeon, Jones has injected much of the self-belief that took him to the world record into the minds of those who seek out his help among the peaks of the Rocky Mountains. Others, including Derek Hawkins - Scotland's leading marathon man - have sought his counsel.

Much has been funded with state assistance, courtesy of SportScotland's Personal Athlete Awards. That, however, is a budget under threat with ministers offering no guarantees that it will be extended into 2015. With just two years until the Rio Olympics, it is a concern for those, like Partridge, who see the returns on such investment.

"It makes sense that there's been funding," she says. "But even if the finance isn't the same, you hope they'll get feedback from athletes on what would work. You can't fund everything but you hope there'll be some."

European 10,000m medallist Chris Thompson heads the men's field in Edinburgh today, just two weeks after his impressive 2:11 marathon debut in London.

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