The 1500m runner experienced severe effects of concussion after falling in her World Championships heat in Beijing
British 1500m runner Laura Weightman said she experienced memory loss and an eight-week lay-off from training as a result of severe concussion suffered after a heavy fall in her heat at the Beijing World Championships last summer.
The 2014 European and Commonwealth 1500m medallist is nearing the final stages of preparation for her outdoor season and will return to the track for the first time since her heat in Beijing where she qualified in a time of 4:06.13, but had to withdraw from the start line of the semi-final after being concussed in the heats.
Reflecting on the aftermath of the race, Weightman said: “In the initial couple of days a lot of people who saw me just said I didn’t make any sense.
“My face had no expression, I couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t sit and watch a film or read a book. I had a really bad headache and was really confused.
“I couldn’t sleep and was sending messages home and none of them made any sense. I was really, really in a bad way. Even though I got flown home early I still felt for a long time afterwards that I struggled with not being able to sleep. I was very restless and couldn’t concentrate still.”
Having worked her way into good form in the build-up to Beijing, Weightman relaxed down the home straight as she found herself in a comfortable position to qualify before stumbling across the line where she landed heavily without breaking her fall.
A 10-minute run six weeks later in October was the first training Weightman could do after Beijing, an experience she described as being akin to rehabilitation from an injury.
“It took quite a long time for the symptoms to settle down, but even when they did my body was in a mess from such a bang to the head that I actually couldn’t run for quite some time,” she said.
But it was the loss of memory in the immediate moments after her fall which were the biggest concern to the Steve Cram-coached runner.
“I’ve never ever been unconscious before so to not remember even who helped me off the ground is scary,” Weightman said. “The first memory I have is stumbling and being next to Phil Jones of the BBC. I don’t remember falling or getting to that point.
“The recovery from it was a big worry because I didn’t realise what was happening to me, and I didn’t realise the extent of the concussion. I didn’t realise I wasn’t with it. I knew things weren’t right but I didn’t quite see how that came across to other people.”
The World Championships in Beijing and Moscow have been difficult experiences for the Morpeth runner, but the form she showed in winning Commonwealth silver shortly followed by European bronze two years ago is what Weightman will draw upon as she targets success in the Olympic year.
She added: “I was in shape and smashing out good sessions, and turned up to races to do well. I’m very lucky that I did that and can take a lot of positives from that season and know that when I’m in shape and things are going well I can execute a race at a championship and race to the ability that I know I can.
“To go to a championship, negotiate tough rounds and then recover to be competitive in a tough final … Getting that experience over the past four years up until now has been so invaluable.”