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Home crowd make it special for Sharp as she finally receives gold medal

FOR Lynsey Sharp it may not have been the June evening in Helsinki she perhaps envisaged, but after 19 long months of waiting, the 800m gold medal from the 2012 European Championships was finally around her neck.

Lynsey Sharp shows off her gold medal  Photograph: Getty
Lynsey Sharp shows off her gold medal Photograph: Getty

There was plenty of consolation in the roar of approval from the Scottish crowd at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow with Sharp describing the moment as "the end of such an emotional journey".

The 23-year-old was presented with the medal by her father Cameron, himself a former Commonwealth Games champion and European silver medallist, at the Sainsbury's Glasgow International Match, after many months of lobbying by British Athletics.

Sharp officially became a European champion last June when her 800m silver medal was formally upgraded to gold after Russia's Yelena Arzhakova was given a two-year doping ban for illegally boosting her red-cell count. Arzhakova's ban also meant Sharp was promoted from bronze to silver in the 800m at the 2011 European Under-23 Championships.

But it was only as she stepped on to the podium to receive her prize that the enormity of the situation hit home.

"I wasn't expecting that at all," she said. "I knew dad was going to be here and I was looking up in the stands trying to find him and my mum. I was like: 'Where are they?' Even when [the presenter] was introducing him and his achievements I still didn't really get it.

"In Helsinki they had the medal ceremonies outside the stadium. It was a bit strange anyway. It's probably better to have it here in front of a home crowd and it made it really special. I thought the national anthem was going to make me cry but I'd started before that anyway."

A longstanding Rangers fan, Sharp laughed when asked whether she would be making a last-minute dash across the city. "Am I off to Ibrox now? I wish. Unfortunately not. It's a 3pm kick-off so I'll struggle."

Her proud mother Carol, who was part of the 1982 Commonwealth Games team, spoke of her joy to see her daughter with the gold medal.

"It's almost worked out better today than it was at the championships," she said. "The presentation in Helsinki was a bit of a damp squib, because they had it after the event round the back of the stadium.

"It's like karma in some ways - it's better than anyone could have hoped for. The most important thing for Lynsey was just to listen to the national anthem.

"That means such a lot to her, because that was the bit she was robbed of in Helsinki."

Susan Swarbrick

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