JUST a few years ago, going to the Olympic Games was unimaginable to Beth Dobbin.

But now, with less than six months until the Opening Ceremony of Tokyo 2020, Dobbin looks like she has Olympic selection well under control.

It is quite a turnaround for a sprinter who describes herself as “not naturally talented” but instead, as someone who has got to where she is through sheer hard work.

Dobbin is clearly doing herself a disservice with such a description but nevertheless, she is the prime example of what determination and hard graft can do.

Just a few years ago, Dobbin was almost entirely unheard of outwith athletics circles. But in 2018, she made everyone sit up and take notice when she won the British 200m title before reaching the final of the European Championships.

Selection for the World Championships last season saw her tick off her second major championship appearance but it is the big one this summer she really has her eyes on.

To grab a seat on the plane to Tokyo will be no easy feat, made all the harder by the fact that one of the available places in the 200m will almost certainly be taken by world champion, Dina Asher-Smith.

But rather than feel anxious about the competitiveness of her event, Dobbin feels only excitement that she is in this position, which until so recently seemed completely unrealistic.

“It’s so surreal thinking I could be at the Olympics,” he said.

“I dreamt of being an Olympian but I never thought it was going to happen. As a teenager, I was nowhere near the level of the best girls in this country so to now be in a position where I could make the team for Tokyo is amazing.

“This is something I thought would never happen so I need to grab the opportunity. I think it feels even more special because no one would have expected it. But I’m trying not to put extra pressure on myself.”

Dobbin’s confidence is currently sky-high. After such a successful breakthrough in 2018, it is not uncommon for the follow-up season to be something of a let-down. But Dobbin’s second season competing with the best was far from disappointing, as she set another personal best, breaking the long-standing Scottish 200m record in the process.

It was, she admits, quite a relief to realise that she was not a one-season wonder.

“Going into the 2019 season, I was a little nervous because I was thinking ‘what if I don’t back-up what I did in 2018?’,” she said.

“I had funding, sponsorship and everything and those people were expecting me to run well.

“But those worries have now gone because I was able to back it up and that was a huge confidence boost. It was great to show that my 2018 season wasn’t a fluke.”

Dobbin’s strong performances last year were all the more impressive in light of the injury problems she suffered, including a chipped bone in her neck, which curtailed her winter pre-season training drastically.

As inconvenient as her injury issues were, it actually taught the 25-year-old a number of valuable lessons.

“I’ve learnt a lot from 2019 – now that I’m running a bit quicker, I can’t train the way I’ve always trained. I have to be more careful and have more recovery in my programme. So it’s been a learning curve,” the Loughborough-based sprinter said.

“It’s been quite hard to get my head around doing things differently, especially with the way I’ve come through, it’s all been through hard work and dedication and really pushing myself.

“I’d consider myself to not be as naturally talented as some of my competitors, I’ve had to really work at it. So I'm now in a position where I have to be a bit more sensible and take my foot off the gas occasionally.”

But having overcome both her injuries and the newfound pressure heaped upon her shoulders, Dobbin, who will sit out of the indoor season this year, is brimming with confidence as the Olympic Games edge closer.

“People expect a lot more from me now and I think I really did struggle with that early last year,” she said.

“Now though, those thoughts have disappeared. So I’m quietly confident that I can run well this year.”