The Rio Olympic relay medallist talks about team work and contesting the 4x400m indoors

Eilidh Doyle is a serial relay medallist. Her collection includes Olympic, world and European outdoor medals. Doyle on the first leg, Christine Ohuruogu on the anchor, with any two from several in the middle. It is a proven successful formula.

Doyle enjoys running the first leg, where she can run in her own lane without interference.

Indoors is a different matter and needs a different approach. “It’s very tactical and very dependent on lane draw”, says Doyle, who formed part of GB’s European indoor gold medal-winning team in Gothenburg in 2013. “Outdoors I think whoever has the fastest athletes will win. Indoors you can win without having the fastest athletes by getting the running order right and the tactics right.” As far as lanes go, she favours an outside lane for the first leg because “you really want to be in among it at the break”.

Doyle, who reached the semi-finals of the individual 400m on the first day of the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade, also feels she can improve her outdoor performance by running the indoor relay. “One of the reasons I am doing the relay is to take me out of my comfort zone. Here it is about being more assertive, more aggressive and getting more competitive experience,” she says.

“I have done some [outdoor] relays when I have done the third leg and so on but I have been fairly lucky in relays, not having too much going on around me. But this weekend will take me out of my comfort zone, having to work a bit harder and it will give me the experience for the legs I might need to do in the outdoor relays as well.”

Another aspect of the relay which motivates Doyle is the camaraderie of the team. “In an individual race it’s all on you and if you don’t run well it is you who is affected,” she says. “But in the relay you don’t want to be the one who runs badly so that the others don’t get a medal. You have a bond with the others and you don’t want to let them down. I want to win a medal in the relay but I want the others to win a medal as well and that is added pressure.”

The absence of Ohuruogu also looms over the women’s relay team. Doyle explains: “Christine always gets us together before we go out and says, ‘We are a team, we are going to go on to the track together and whatever happens we leave the track together’. That last piece of reassurance of knowing we are a team and that we are all going to run our hearts out whatever happens produces a nice calming feeing before you go out.”

With only Doyle present from the Rio bronze medal-winning squad, claiming a medal may be a tall order but as Doyle puts it, we can be sure that the girls will all ‘run their hearts out’ whatever happens.

» The women’s 4x400m relay final takes place on Sunday at 19:00 local time