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Child content to put solo glory on back-burner for now

With a captain's speech to deliver this evening, and the prospect of becoming the most recognisable sportswoman in Scotland in the summer, it might be easy for Eilidh Child to treat the prospect of securing another global athletics medal this weekend as an afterthought.

To an extent, the World Indoor Championships, which begin tomorrow in Sopot, Poland, are merely a tune-up for the months ahead. Yet the Scottish 400m hurdles specialist is well aware that the finest spoils come from the greatest stages and opportunities to excel cannot be shrugged off.

The 27-year-old, the ceremonial captain of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team that arrived on the shores of the Baltic last night, has opted to compete solely in the 4x400 metres relay as the squad that took bronze in the world outdoors in Moscow in the autumn reunites.

It was a temptation, Child admits, to perform an additional solo act. She did, after all, win silver in the 400m at the European Championships 12 months ago, trailing only the now sidelined Perri Shakes-Drayton.

However, a niggling pre-Christmas calf injury has reminded her that she is human. "Last year, there was no expectation whatsoever. I hadn't done an indoors for so long," Child said. "I was running well, I was confident. Everything was going my way. And I don't think I appreciated how fast I was going.

"Maybe it was because I had Perri ahead of me the whole time. I wanted to be the best. And she ran so fast. I thought this year, I'd just have to step on the track and it would happen after a few races. I took it for granted, how useful it is to have a good winter with no hiccups or injuries."

If it was a salutary lesson in the fragility of form, then Child should not despair. Her time of 52.49 seconds in Birmingham two weeks ago was a second outside the best she set in reaching the podium in Gothenburg last spring but she has advanced her fitness since.

The relay squad, which also includes Christine Ohuruogu, Margaret Adeoye and Shana Cox, is strong enough to defend the title secured in Istanbul two years ago should they progress from Saturday's heats into the final.

The Kinross native could, in that case, be warming up on the track on Sunday afternoon during the medal ceremony for the 800m, which might feature Laura Muir. The 20-year-old, who grew up miles from her compatriot in Milnathort, is among the primary British prospects in Sopot despite lofty expectations being tempered by all and sundry.

"I totally agree with that," Child asserts. "But Laura can do anything. She's shown she has a good racing brain. Tactically, she's very good. The physical ability is there and she's mentally tough. She can do anything she wants. But she's level-headed.

"She'll take each round as it comes. And that's the only way you can approach it: see who's in the race, run it tactically and see how you go. But when you see how Laura has been running, in Glasgow and Birmingham, with that kick she has, the world is her oyster."

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