After smashing her 1500m PB with two Olympic ‘A’ standards, Laura Weightman is cautiously optimistic about making the Olympic team
Following a promising breakthrough season in 2010, last year did not go quite to plan for Laura Weightman as she faced one set-back after another. But having now enjoyed her first ever full winter, the Morpeth middle-distance runner is already starting to make an impact this summer.
Two years ago the three-time English Schools champion finished sixth in the 1500m at the IAAF World Junior Championships. She ended the year with a 1500m PB of 4:09.60, the fourth-fastest time by a British junior, and a 2:03.18 clocking for 800m.
But disaster struck in the months that followed. In February 2011 Weightman tore the cartilage in her knee and had to have surgery. “It was something I’d had for a few years but we only discovered it when I started training hard,” said Weightman, who is coached by former 1500m world record-holder Steve Cram.
Then just when she was rehabbing back to fitness after the operation, Weightman’s asthma flared up. To make matters worse, Weightman was affected by hay fever in the summer, which then led to complications with her ribs.
Yet somehow she managed to salvage something from the season. Despite her less-than-ideal preparation and having to miss a lot of training, she set a 1500m PB of 4:07.94, ranking her seventh in the country that year.
Her injuries and illnesses are now behind her, and Weightman has had a completely uninterrupted winter. It showed too when she opened her track season in the 3000m guest race at the BUCS Championships earlier this month, decimating the field on the final lap to win by more than five seconds in 9:02.62, taking a 31-second chunk off her PB.
She continued her good form two weeks ago in Hengelo, where she finished third with a 1500m PB of 4:04.88 – well inside the Olympic B standard and beating fellow Brits Charlene Thomas and Steph Twell.
Indeed, the only Briton to finish ahead of her was world silver medallist Hannah England, who only came past her in the final straight.
Earlier this week Weightman finished even higher in her race at the Bydgoszcz Cup, winning in 4:05.88 and finishing almost a second ahead of world indoor finalist Angelika Cichoka and Germany’s Denise Krebs, who beat England earlier this year at the Glasgow Indoor International.
“I’m so excited because I’m fit, really fit, and I’m healthy,” the 20-year-old told AW. “I’m in one piece and loving racing.”
Such is her strength and confidence right now, Weightman believes she can return to the Olympic Stadium later this summer for the London Games.
With two ‘A’ standards under her belt, Weightman only needs to finish in the top two at the Olympic Trials later this month to book her place on the team.
The women’s 1500m one of the most competitive events in the country as she will be up against world silver medallist England, 2009 world silver medallist Lisa Dobriskey, European Team Championships winner Charlene Thomas, and Commonwealth bronze medallist Steph Twell. But Weightman is not daunted by the prospect of racing her domestic rivals.
“I really believe that I’ve now confirmed how strong I am, but at the same time I know there’s still work to do,” she said.
“Racing in the Olympic Stadium was the best experience ever, I really loved it,” she added. “I want to be back. I’m going to make sure I’m back here.”