The 2012 European 800m champion goes into the IAAF World Indoor Championships eager for even more experience as she uses the event as a stepping stone towards the Rio Olympics
“The whole purpose of the indoor season was to learn,” says Lynsey Sharp as she speaks in Portland ahead of the IAAF World Indoor Championships.
“We didn’t sit down at the start of the year and say ‘let’s aim for a medal at World Indoors’.
“It was just about looking at where we could improve things in order to get me to the point where I can win an Olympic medal.”
Having said that, of course there’s no denying her competitive instinct and thanks to her 2:00.30 indoor PB clocked in February, the 2012 European 800m gold medallist is the second quickest athlete so far this winter in the Portland field.
“Being here, being part of the team, you want to do well,” says Sharp. “I’m a competitive person. I like championships so I’m looking to do the best I can and execute the races as best as I can.”
US champion Ajee’ Wilson is the world leader with her 2:00.09, while her team-mate Laura Roesler has clocked 2:00.49 this winter. Having never really done an indoor season before, Sharp admits it’s all a learning curve. The 2014 European and Commonwealth silver medallist was beaten into third place at the British Championships and the winner of that race, Adelle Tracey, is also among Sharp’s rivals in Portland.
“I know I’m in shape but there’s a lot more to it than being able to run fast,” Sharp says. “It’s about getting it right on the day.
“There really is no margin for error,” she adds on running indoors. “When you want to make a move, you have to be decisive about it and that is only going to help me for outdoors.
“The races I have done indoors have been against the likes of Ajee’ Wilson and Laura Roesler so I’ve been able to compete against the girls who are pretty highly ranked already. I’ve come up a bit short in the races I have done but I think a lot of that is to do with learning to race indoors.”
Sitting between Sharp and Roesler on this season’s global rankings is Ukraine’s Nataliya Lupu, but the 2013 European indoor champion, who was handed a nine-month doping ban in 2014 after testing positive for banned stimulant methylhexaneamine at the World Indoor Championships in Sopot, is to miss the event after she tested positive for meldonium, a substance added to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibited list from January 1 of this year.
Also absent from the championships are Russian athletes following the country’s ban from international competition, but Sharp says her focus is on who is, rather than who isn’t, on the start line.
“You’re thinking about who you’re competing against, not who’s not here or the politics of the sport,” says the 25-year-old, who belatedly received her 2012 European gold in 2014 after Russia’s Yelena Arzhakova was stripped of the title for doping. “But it’s one step towards a cleaner sport.
“Someone asked me the other day: ‘do you think the women’s 800 is weaker now?’,” she adds. “That kind of annoyed me. It’s not that the event is weaker, it’s just that now it’s a true reflection of what women are able to run.
“Before, it wasn’t real. It’s nice to know I can run 1:57 clean and they were doping to run 1:56, 1:57. It gives me confidence.”
» Lynsey Sharp contests the heats of the 800m on Saturday (March 19) at 11.15am local time (6.15pm GMT)