The London 2012 Olympic marathoner says reflecting on her Games experience from four years ago has helped her through tough times
Freya Ross says achieving her aim of making the Rio 2016 Olympics four years after she represented Great Britain at the London Games would help her feel that she has “properly turned a corner” after her injury struggles of the past few years.
The 32-year-old is among the five British athletes in the elite women’s field for Sunday’s Virgin Money London Marathon who will be battling to secure a spot in Team GB for later this summer. The first two British women across the finish line in London will secure automatic selection for Rio, provided they have also achieved the qualifying time of 2:31, and Ross is looking forward to returning to the event at which she made her marathon debut four years ago before being added to the Olympic team for the home Games.
“Preparation has gone really well in the last few months so I feel ready for it,” said the Scottish athlete, who spent five weeks training in Boulder earlier this year.
“I’m looking forward to going out there feeling strong and fit and confident.”
Ross sustained a stress fracture in her foot in 2012 followed by a stress fracture in her hip in 2014 and various other bone stress problems, but the Edinburgh runner says targeting Rio and remembering her Games experience from four years ago has helped her through tough times.
“It was amazing running in the Olympics in 2012, an absolutely phenomenal experience and probably the best that I will ever have,” said Ross, who then competing under her maiden name of Murray got a call-up to replace the injured Paula Radcliffe and placed 44th and top Brit on her Olympic debut. “I think that’s maybe part of what has helped me keep going through the injuries – those memories of being part of Team GB and wanting to compete at another Olympics.”
Comparing the pressure she felt before the London Marathon four years ago with the build-up to this year’s race, the Steve Jones-coached athlete explained: “Going into the London Marathon in 2012 I really felt no pressure at all because I hadn’t run a marathon before and I just wanted to go out there and give it my best shot and see what I could do.”
On Sunday she will be going up against Sonia Samuels and Alyson Dixon, who both already have the Rio qualifying time following their respective 2:28:04 and 2:29:30 performances in Berlin last September, plus marathon debutante Charlotte Purdue and Susan Partridge, who like Ross is coached by Jones, the 1985 London Marathon winner and British marathon record-holder.
“Everybody wants to be in those top two spots within the qualifying time,” said Ross. “In some ways it’s a shame it’s not top three within the qualifying time but that’s the way the selection policy is written. You just have to go out there and give it your best shot. If you make it, you make it, and if you don’t then it’s unfortunate but as long as you have given it your all then you have to be satisfied with that.
“It’s a nice challenge to have,” she added. “It’s great to see that there is five of us who are capable of making the team. The more people we have got going for it, the better.”
On what making the GB Olympic team for a second time would mean to her, Ross said: “It would be amazing. I think it would really feel like I had properly turned a corner. I haven’t competed for Britain at all since the Olympics, so that would be incredible.”
» See the April 21 edition of AW magazine for in-depth Virgin Money London Marathon previews