On the 6th of July, myself and a team of 31 of Lincolnshire’s top track and field athletes set off on our journey to Birmingham before the championships began on the 7th. This year was my fourth time at the championships. Now a senior in the team, every year feels a little less daunting. The championships have very high entry standards and so it is always an achievement just to make it to the starting line.
After a night of very little sleep and a quick breakfast it was to head to the track. It was actually my 17th birthday on the day of the race although I had to put this to the back of my mind until the race was over. The championships were held at the Alexander Stadium. This is the stadium used to host the senior British Championships and Diamond League events. I met my parents and coach at the stadium. After a few hours of spectating it was time to warm up. One thing that most people don’t know about athletics is that about half an hour before the race all the competitors have to go to the call up room. Once in our pen we all sit around anxiously waiting for our turn to race. The call up room is my least favourite part about the whole event. At this time, you are most nervous, in a small area, face to face with your competitors. Usually it is very quiet, everyone silently stretching and staring at one another. However, this year was very different and we were all talking which definitely helped to clear some of the nerves. We then walk in a line out onto the track. After a few final strides, it is time to go.
This was the most important race of the season. After missing out on the final by 0.16s and 0.3s in previous years, this year I was even more desperate to make it. Going into the championships I had ran a 2 second PB and knew that if I ran the right race I could potentially make it through. With the top 3 and 2 fastest losers going through to the final, I knew that it was a very challenging but achievable target.
I was in lane 8 and knew I needed to cut in ASAP at the break. I did just that and tried to stick behind the inevitable winner. She easily won my heat and went on to set a championship record time in the final the next day and become European u20 champion later in the season. Three girls and myself broke away from the field. Knowing that the race was slower than the previous race I knew that I wouldn’t get through as a fastest loser and needed to be in the top 3.
With 300m to go, in the heat of the moment, I made a stupid mistake. I made a surge in an attempt to secure my position. The other girls soon closed and I could feel one of them go past. Now in 3rd place I knew I had to keep pushing. The leader pulled away dragging the other girl with her. With 100m to go another girl edged past. I stuck with her. I was hurting. She was hurting. My legs were giving way. Her legs were giving way. The lactic sniper had well and truly hit us both. She fell first, I followed. We both collapsed in a pile on the finishing line.
It was close but I knew she had beaten me. I felt absolutely awful. The lactic acid caused me to have an immense headache and feel as if I’d been kicked in the chest. My knees were stinging.
I was helped up and taken to the first aid tent where the lovely first aider cleaned my knees up. I left to meet my family. Soon after I returned to the first aider after being sick in front of the whole stadium – nice. 800m truly is the worst/most painful event in athletics. After a very painful cool down I proceeded to have a few tears (understatement) at how close I was to achieving my goal.
Upon reflection, I am pleased with how I did on the day. 9th in England, 0.1s away from the final, whilst carrying an ankle injury wasn’t too bad. The one bonus of not making the final was that I could eat some birthday cake! And also, my knees were so painful I think I would’ve had to walk round the final the next day. One of my favourite things about athletics is meeting like-minded people from all around the country and so I proceeded to meet some of my friends in the London team.
Megan Ellison, Upper Sixth. September 2017