THERE was an undeniable spring in Lynsey Sharp’s step yesterday as she took the short flight from the GB holding camp in Dubai for this week’s IAAF World Championships in Doha.

Was it the new coaching arrangement under David Harmer that has helped the 29-year-old return to form after the heartache of missing out on a spot at the European Indoor Championships in Glasgow in March? Or the familiar surroundings she has found at Loughborough, after upping sticks from San Diego?

Could it have something to do with the fact her hopes of being in the mix for a global medal are further enhanced by the fact her hyper-androgynous rivals Caster Semenya, Francine Niyonsaba and Margaret Wambui aren’t competing in Doha, having been ordered to medicate to avoid their abnormally high testosterone levels following a ruling by the Court of Arbitration from Sport?

The answer is probably a little bit of all of the above, and also something more fundamental than all of that. Put in its most simple terms, the fun is back.

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“In March time, if you had asked me, I would just have been happy to make the team,” said Sharp. “Now I feel like I am very much in the best shape I have ever been in and, more importantly, I am enjoying it and having fun doing it. It might sound strange for someone who has made pretty much every team since 2014 but this is the most fun I have had to prepare for a major championship.”

While Ajee Wilson of the USA will go in as a firm favourite for gold, having finished the top non-hyper-androgynous athlete in 28 of her last 29 races since 2017, Sharp showed during her Diamond League campaign – including a win at the London Anniversary games – that she can be part of the conversation.

“The 800m is probably one of the most open events in the championships, really,” said Sharp. “And that is really exciting. There are new names on the scene, although Ajee has obviously been very consistent this year.

“And if you look at the Diamond League, the results have all been different. And that has made it a lot more exciting as an athlete to be in those races.

“Also, for the supporters, not knowing who is going to win has been a lot more fun I think. I feel like I have the opportunity to make the final and win a medal.”

If all of us in some way seek the validation of their parents, the dynamic has always been a little different for Sharp, the product of athletics royalty in the form of Cameron, a Scottish 200m Olympic sprinting medallist and Carol, who competed for Scotland in the 800m at the 1982 Commonwealth Games.

Now limited by a car crash, Cameron isn’t able to attend most events, so passes on his feedback via a series of usually rather curt e-mails.

“I have always said that my dad is always my biggest critic,” said Sharp. “That was harder than ever last year to listen to. He would say something to me like ‘Where has the speed gone?’ Then my mum has to phone him and say ‘you can’t say it as blunt as that’. But most of the time he is right! Even after my successes, he is still pretty blunt. After 2014, it was probably something like ‘she still didn’t win’.”

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As much as missing Glasgow in March stung, where Sharp hit rock bottom after an indoor event in Dusseldorf. “As anyone who watched my indoor races would tell you, I didn’t have what I used to have in the last 200m,” said Sharp.

“I can’t tell you how difficult it was to come off that last bend and have nothing. Each time I would hope I had a different gear and I just didn’t. So I walked off the track in Dusseldorf and said ‘I am done, I can’t do this’.

“It completely took away my enjoyment in what I was doing,” she added. “And there was a tiny, tiny concern at the back of my head, saying ‘am I ever going to be as good as I was?’. And the person who was key to getting me out of that mindset was my mum. She made sure that I never lost sight of what you are capable of doing with the right training. I am so glad that, having done the right training, I am seeing the benefits of that work now.

“I made a huge call. I literally packed a bag for an indoor season when I left San Diego and never went back. People had written me off last year. They thought I was past it. But that is not what a career in athletics is like. It is not about constant progression.

“If I had any advice for other athletes, it is don’t just stay with someone because it is the easiest thing to do. You only have this career once. I have never been afraid to make big decisions like that.”