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Eilidh Child takes favourite status in her stride in Zurich

When the demand for the last television appearance had been fulfilled, and the exit of her relay colleagues had rendered her expendable, Eilidh Child burst out of the Commonwealth Games bubble with a haste not incomparable to her turn on the track while securing 400 metres hurdles silver.

Eilidh Child soaked up the pressure heaped on her as a poster girl of the Commonwealth Games; now for a European title tilt. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire
Eilidh Child soaked up the pressure heaped on her as a poster girl of the Commonwealth Games; now for a European title tilt. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire

It wasn't as if the poster girl of Glasgow 2014 had not been relishing the fruits of her labour. Anything but. Yet for those with genuine intent, the time to party is when the season is over, not in its midst, and she hopes her body of work for this summer is anything but complete.

Her quest for European Championship gold starts this morning with the heats in Zurich and events of a fortnight ago have been tucked away in a box labelled The Past. "I got away from the Village to get back to normality," the 27-year-old reveals. "I wanted to do that straight away. Mentally, I'm ready to race again.

"That was always the tricky thing. My coach Malcolm [Arnold] told me he'd no worries I'd physically be ready to do back-to-back championships but it was about getting over the mental fatigue of the Commonwealths. The positive thing is that I went from potentially having five races with a day off in between to just having two. So it worked in my favour. I have felt pretty tired but I'll see what happens when I'm out there."

At Hampden, silver was the logical advance forecast based on times and performances. In Switzerland, Child has been established as the favourite, the prey rather than the hunter. She has felt expectation before on the international stage, but never to head the field. If the proximity of significant meetings has brought any benefit, it is that there has been little time to dwell on the predictions of success.

"It just means I can go in and feel it won't be as big," she says. "I did enjoy the Commonwealths but I've never had that much attention before. It felt quite alien. So while I go in with the expectation from being No.1 in Europe, I'll go into it more relaxed."

Or, you suspect, as much as you can be when the prospect of a maiden major title beckons. With silver and bronzes collected from previous feats at world and European level, Child, along with Lynsey Sharp, is the model to which Scotland's hopefuls must aspire. They are Team Scotland trailblazers; many prospects have spent chunks of their young lives dreaming of nothing but Commonwealth medals.

Athletics has greater platforms on which to shine and now is the time, Child says, to think really big. "Glasgow will have done a lot of athletes good," she asserts. "It will have given them a taste of what it could be like if [they were] a top-class athlete, getting to go to championships. For me, when I ran at Delhi 2010, that was my first major medal. I'd gone to the worlds the year before but this felt amazing, to be able to get a medal.

"That's what you want: to have that feeling again. The reaction the athletes got at Hampden when they stepped out . . . it's given them a buzz and hopefully they think, 'I want to be at something like this next year', rather than seeing it as the pinnacle. It's more a starting point."

Sharp begins the defence of her 800m crown this morning but, even with the confidence gained from her improbable Commonwealth silver, she is expecting the title to be harder to retain than it was to capture in 2012.

"There'll be some tough Russians I'm up against," she said. "And the British girls as well. So I need to remember it's not going to be easy. It's another race I need to go out and fight for."

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