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Cooke's quick switch

With her Winter Olympic dreams dashed by fractions of seconds, Gillian Cooke sensed that time was not on her side.

Amid claims of ageism, the Scot was told she would not be leaping into a Team GB bobsled in Sochi. Immediately, she enacted Plan B. Her Games ambitions for 2014 would now lie in Glasgow, not Russia, hurtling into a long jump pit rather than down icy tunnels.

There was no time to waste in pursing the qualifying mark.

"I had four hours to enter the Scottish Indoor Championships so that was the first thing I did," Cooke said. "But then they [the Team GB selectors] told me I had to stay on in Germany as a reserve for the [bobsleigh] European Cup.

"It was really tough being stuck there and being the only one not going to Sochi. Everyone else was all excited and talking about getting kitted out. But the fortunate thing was that there was an indoor track a couple of kilometres away, so I went down there, got away from it all, and did a couple of jump sessions on my own."

Cooke's swift action leads her today to Glasgow's Emirates Arena and an opportunity to see how far off the mark she is, in what will be her first athletics outing for eight months. The Holy Grail is a leap of 6.20 metres, a comfortable achievement in her pomp but one she has not achieved since the bobsleigh took her on an unlikely path towards a world title in 2009.

"There's definitely fuel on the fire after the disappointment of not going to Sochi," said Cooke, who eight years ago came 11th in Melbourne's Commonwealth Games. "But it gives me an extra month to get the qualifying standard."

Following just one technical session with her coach, John Scott, this afternoon will be a testing bed, with domestic rival Sarah Warnock poised to boost her CV ahead of next weekend's UK Championships in Sheffield.

"My coach says I'm in great shape, just for the wrong sport," Cooke said. "The run-up in long jump is pretty much the same as bobsleigh but you're adding something completely different and that's what I have to try to adjust to."

Mark Woods

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