Olympic semi-finalist Eilidh Child keen to turn the pressure into a positive and has sights set on medals ahead of the Euro Team Champs
Having clocked a 54.93 personal best over the barriers in Geneva at the beginning of June and then bettered her time over the 400m flat to 52.08 in Hengelo a week later, it’s safe to say good things are expected from Eilidh Child at this weekend’s European Team Championships.
Tipped for a medal by UK Athletics head coach Peter Eriksson, the 26-year-old Olympic semi-finalist, who will be contesting the 400m hurdles on Saturday, has admitted she’s finally learning to embrace the expectation and is looking forward to continuing her current run of form.
“Before I’ve seen it more as pressure on myself, I’ve not ever wanted to say too much because I’ve not wanted to set myself up for a fall,” says the Scot who claimed a gold and silver at the European Indoor Championships in March having not done an indoor season since 2008 or ever contested the 400m inside.
“It’s about being a bit more confident in my own ability and saying well if people are expecting me to be winning medals then it’s because I’m doing something right and I should be winning medals - that’s definitely my target this weekend.
“I think I’ve tried to hide away to take the pressure off me but if you want to be a top-class athlete you’ve got to embrace that pressure and really step up to the mark when it matters.”
And being one of the faces of next year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, where she’ll look to go one better than her silver in Delhi in 2010, is another reason to get used to the spotlight, the Scot explains.
“I’ve got to get used to having a bit more pressure on myself because I’m one of the home athletes for next year’s Commonwealth Games, I’ve got to embrace it.
“I’m trying not to see it as pressure and expectation but to see it as a compliment. It shows I must be doing something right and people are taking notice now.”
Even though the emphasis is on team standings this weekend, Child, who spent the winter concentrating on speed work, knows the competition is an important stepping stone for her personally ahead of the IAAF World Championships in Moscow later this summer.
“It’s another race that you want win and stamp down a bit of authority going into the World Championships.
“I’ve been doing a lot of extra speed work so I’m now actually a lot quicker between the hurdles to what I used to be so now it’s just trying to adjust because I’m doing a stride less to what I was doing last year.
“There have been a couple of races that I’ve done the hurdling really well but the conditions have been rubbish and then vice-versa, the conditions have been perfect but I’ve not hurdled very well. I’m hoping it can all come together at the right time but everything is going in the right direction. It’s about nailing it when it matters.”
As well as racing the 400m hurdles, Child has also been named in the 4x400m relay squad for this weekend alongside team captain and 400m hurdle ‘rival’ Perri Shakes-Drayton, who will be dropping the barriers for the flat, as well as Meghan Beesley, Shana Cox, Kirsten McAslan, Christine Ohuruogu and Christine’s younger sister, Victoria.
“The 4x400m relay is a strange one because I think they are wanting to give some of the younger athletes a bit more experience of racing so I don’t know what sort of team they’re going to field,” commented Child.
“If I get to run that will be great but if I have to take a step back a little bit and let some of the less experienced athletes get a chance to show what they’re made of then I’m quite happy to do that as well. I’ll stand at the sidelines and be shouting them on!”
And ultimately she believes victory for the team is within reach. “Our team is very strong and I’ve had a little glance at the other teams and they’ve got a few gaps here and there.
“If everyone can deliver the way they have been this season I think we’ve got a good chance of winning it.”