BETH DOBBIN has been dreaming of becoming an Olympian for almost two decades. 

For much of that time, it seemed her ambition to represent Team GB at the greatest sporting event on the planet would remain just that; a dream. However, Dobbin’s breakthrough into the big-time was just a few years ago, when she became British 200m champion and Scottish record holder, which thrust her into international contention and by the turn of this year, the sprinter knew she was within touching distance of fulfilling her lifetime goal. 

As she watched Tokyo 2020 succumb to the pandemic though, she had to come to terms with the fact she would not become an Olympian this year after all. However, having waited so long to fulfill her dream, she knows a few more months of waiting are nothing. 

“I agree it was the right call to postpone the Olympics but at the same time, from a selfish point of view, I was so disappointed,” the 26-year-old said. 

“I’d had a good couple of years and so I just felt ‘why is this happening?!’ I knew I was in good shape and I wanted to prove it. 

“Other athletes were saying it’s an extra year to prepare for Tokyo but I didn’t want an extra year, I was ready then!’” 

However, it wasn’t long before Dobbin came to terms with the postponement and began to look at it in a positive light. 

“Now, I definitely do feel an extra year to get even stronger is a good thing,” the Loughborough-based Scot said.  

“I think having to wait even longer for the Olympics makes you even more hungry and so I’m desperate for it to arrive now. It’s like when you’re a kid and you have a big holiday to Disneyland booked – you just can’t wait for it. 

“So fingers crossed everything goes to plan and I think it’ll be even more special after everything we’ve all been through.” 

Dobbin has certainly not had it easy this summer. Her decision to remain at her Loughborough base rather than return to her family home meant she spent the first part of lockdown almost completely isolated from human contact. It would, then, have been understandable had she lost some of her motivation but apart from a few fleeting moments, Dobbin knew she didn’t want to waste a minute of the summer. 

“About a week before lockdown, I thought strict restrictions might be coming and so my dad and brother came to Loughborough and helped convert my garage into a gym,” she said.  

“Even when the Olympics were cancelled, I was so glad I’d done it because I didn’t want to be sitting on my bum for weeks – and I definitely got my money’s worth out of it.  

“There were definitely tough moments - I live alone in Loughborough and that was really difficult. I’d chat to the checkout girl at Tesco for much longer than usual just because I had no one to speak to at home.” 

That Dobbin knows she has what it takes to book a seat on the plane to Tokyo next summer is a testament to her improvement in recent years. In the space of just a few seasons she went from relative obscurity to one of Britain’s fastest sprinters, and was rewarded with her first major championship appearance at the European Championships in 2018, before backing that up with selection for the World Championships last year.  

Her rise surprised even herself and after spending much of the past few years feeling somewhat out of place amongst the superstars of British athletics, she has now developed a self-confidence whereby she now expects herself to be selected for major championships. This change of mentality has not, Dobbin admits though, happened overnight, and she still has to work at it. 

“I think the confidence issues all come from how I broke through – I knocked huge chunks off my time and it’s weird to see yourself as that kind of athlete,” she said. 

“I always wanted to be an elite athlete but I never expected it to happen so when you’re thrown in at the deep end like I was, you just have to learn every day how to adapt to it. 

“Last year, I did sometimes wonder if the previous two years had been a fluke. But because I’ve had another good year of training and I feel in good shape, I’m more confident and things like the Olympics feel much more within reach. Last year, I was hoping I’d do well whereas now, I’m almost expecting myself to do well. 

“I’ve changed as an athlete; I’m running faster and I have to accept this is who I am now. It’s taken me a while to get my head around that but I’m managing it better now.” 

Dobbin has her sights set on doing a few indoor races this winter ahead of the all-important outdoor season beginning next year. And having not raced for over a year, she cannot wait to pull on her spikes in anger once again. 

“I want a couple of races just to get that feeling of racing again,” she said.  

“It’s been so long without racing and so I know that when the outdoor season comes along, if I haven’t raced at all the nerves will be too much to handle. 

“It’s like when you’ve been out injured, you’re just so happy to be back on the start line again – I think that’s how I’ll feel.”