It came as little surprise that Lynsey Sharp’s competitive comeback was in a low-key meet that would normally only register on an athletics aficionado’s radar.

Sharp has not raced since the World Championships in September 2019; she gave birth to Max, in October 2021 and throughout both her pregnancy and after Max’s arrival, maintained she would resume the career that has seen her win European gold, Commonwealth silver and become Scottish record holder.

It’s one thing for an athlete to say they will return after having a baby, it’s another to actually do it.

Sharp has reached the point of return. Her race on Friday gives only the merest of glimpses into how her comeback may go.

That she chose to race over the rarely contested 600m rather than her usual speciality, the 800m, was a smart move; it gave her the opportunity to be back in competitive action, experience the nerves, anxiety and adrenaline rush that inevitably come with racing, yet there was little pressure of comparing times to her pre-baby self.

Having said that, the early signs are extremely positive. Victory in the Glasgow Athletics Miler Meet at the Emirates Arena in a solid, if not spectacular, 1 minute 28.9 seconds, suggests Sharp has, physically, regained much of the fitness.

Certainly, she wouldn’t have raced if she wasn’t in decent shape. Even casual observers know Sharp is too competitive to stand on any start line without a fighting chance of winning.

If she is to return to her previous level, which took her to the Olympic final in 2016 and World Championships final the following year, there is work still to be done, and far more competitive races to be run.

But Sharp, at 32, and still with a good few racing years left in her, is someone who is likely to give returning to the top after becoming a mum as good a shot as anyone.

It remains extraordinarily hard to return to elite sport after having a baby. That it is becoming more commonplace is heartening – and overdue – but also misleading.

From Serena Williams to Laura Kenny to Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, there are plenty of examples to show a return is possible.

And the shifting landscape means those who hold the purse strings also now acknowledge, in the main at least, that becoming pregnant does not necessarily signal the end of a woman’s sporting career.

But the fact that more women – while still a tiny fraction of elite athletes – now compete as mothers, should not diminish the scale of the challenge.

For someone like Williams, who has all the resources to ensure her family can travel with her whenever she wishes, the task is marginally easier – although no amount of money makes a long-haul flight with a toddler easy or enjoyable.

Roger Federer, for example, travelled with five nannies to help with his four kids, ensuring one nanny was always on the subs bench, ready to step in when required. Don’t tell me that doesn’t help a little.

But for most women, and I include Sharp in this, who are not multi-millionaires to ensure they have support at every turn, returning to world-class sport as a mum is a huge challenge.

Physically, it is certainly achievable. In many cases, in fact, women report feeling stronger physically post-baby.

And the often-repeated shift of priorities, which puts sport into perspective, will certainly be true for almost every woman.

However, the mental and emotional toll of being both a mum and an elite athlete is immense.

Elite sport is stressful. It is all-consuming and it requires total commitment if there is to be any chance of success.

Motherhood is too, all-consuming.

To contend with both is exhausting. For many, the drive to commit entirely to sport wanes significantly.

Sharp will find out over the next few months how tough it is to be both an elite runner and a mum. It remains to be seen if it’s something she wants to take on in the longer term.

On the face of it at least, Sharp is the kind of person who will be satisfied with nothing less than competing with the best.

I can’t see her going through the slog of daily training and regular competing for long if she is not in the mix with the best in the world.

Maybe I’m wrong; there’s plenty of athletes who do it for the love of their sport. But it’s a lot to give up if the rewards are not forthcoming.

And so if Sharp does resume her standing as one of the top 800m runners in the world, it will, in my eyes, far outshine anything she has achieved so far.


The withdrawal last week of world No.1 Carlos Alcaraz, from the Australian Open was a significant blow to both the tournament, and to tennis as a whole.

With Roger Federer retired, and Rafa Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic in the twilight of their careers, men’s tennis is frantically looking for someone to fill the gaping hole they are going to leave when they have all hung up their racquets.

Alcaraz is the likely candidate but having won the US Open last September, he has missed both the season-ending ATP finals and now, the first Grand Slam of the year.

The entire sport is desperate to see him back – and sooner rather than later.