WHEN Lennie Waite had someone checking that her running gear fitted her ‘just right’, she realised just how special this Olympic journey was going be. Of the countless unique moments that Olympians experience, few are quite as memorable as the kitting-out process. Waite had her place in Team GB confirmed after the British trials a fortnight ago and she then had the privilege of attending the kitting-out camp in Birmingham earlier this week. “I loved it, it was so, so good,” the steeplechaser, still palpably buoyant from the day, said. “The whole time my jaw was open and I don’t think my eyes could have been any wider.”

The Olympic kit drop was described this week by Commonwealth champion, Ross Murdoch, as the most prestigious of them all and Waite admits that the sheer scale of it exceeded all her expectations. “It was way bigger than I expected- honestly, I couldn’t believe it,” the 30 year-old says. “We got our Opening and Closing Ceremony outfits as well as our sports kit and I love it all. The whole process was so much fun- getting fitted and having people telling you that it looks great or that you need a different size. I just had a huge smile on my face the whole time.”

The perception that athletes get free things constantly bestowed upon them is, in Waite’s case, most certainly not the reality. In fact, she is more used to people greeting her with an air of indifference. “As an athlete, I don’t get very much,” she says. “I don’t really make any money doing this and generally, nobody even asks how my training is going let alone how my outfit feels when I’m running. So to get the kind of attention I got in Birmingham, it was very bizarre. It’s great that they care so much but it’s also strange because I’ve spent the last ten months in hiding with nobody really caring about what I was doing. It was definitely very different.”

This time two years ago, Waite could not have imagined being in this position. After finishing in tenth place in the 3000m steeplechase at Glasgow 2014, she went into semi-retirement. Having been based predominately in America since her childhood, the Paisley-born athlete turned her focus to more academic matters and began practicing as a sport psychologist in Texas. “After the Commonwealth Games, I took some time to think about how running could be part of my life but not my whole life and how it could contribute to my happiness but not dictate my happiness,” she says. “After a few months, I began running again for fun and I realised that I could be a runner and do other things too.”

Having found a balance that suited her, Waite decided to give competitive running another go. But, as elite sport is wont to do, it ensured that her return was far from stress-free. After running the qualifying time for the 2015 World Championships, she was omitted from the British team as their criteria stated that the time must be achieved twice. It was a bitter blow but the Scot also gleaned some positives from the situation. “My personality is that I react to failure by wanting to prove people wrong,” she says. “It made me focus more narrowly whereas my approach in the past had been just to train hard and hope that things might happen. For the last year, there was never any part of me that wasn’t completely focused on achieving the automatic Olympic selection criteria. But I definitely had huge doubts about whether I could make it into the team.”

It is hardly a secret that elite sport is as much a mental game as it is physical and Waite puts her sport psychology expertise to good use to improve her own performance. “Because of my work, I’m very aware of how my mentality affects my racing,” she explains. “It has also made me less shy in reaching out and asking for help because although I understand what’s going on with the mental side of things, I can’t actually be my own doctor.”

The Opening Ceremony of Rio is now just over a month away but Waite still has one major outing before she travels to Brazil. Next week, she will compete in the European Championships in Amsterdam and the Scot is eager to put in a good performance to ensure she goes into the Olympic Games in a strong position. “My coach is confident that if I continue to progress and stay healthy then I can make the final in Rio,” she says. “To do that will take a faster time than I’ve ever run before but the Europeans will give me a good chance to challenge my PB. If I can do that then I can go into the Olympics with the goal of making the final.”