Beth Dobbin column: I can't wait to make Doncaster proud at Tokyo Olympics

Finally, there seems to be some normality returning in regards to athletics competitions.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 11:55 am
Beth Dobbin will now turn her attention to this summer's Olympics. Photo: Maja Hitij/Getty Images
Beth Dobbin will now turn her attention to this summer's Olympics. Photo: Maja Hitij/Getty Images

The first major championships since the pandemic began took place in Poland earlier this month.

The European Indoor Championships proved to be a hugely successful competition not only for the Brits but for athletes around the continent that have been starved of the championship buzz since the summer of 2019.

I never usually do much of an indoor season as my event, the 200m, is rarely run indoors.

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However, due to missing the entire season in 2020 because of the pandemic, I felt that it was important to race as I knew going long periods without racing can lead to rustiness.

It is much better to experience that during the indoors, when stakes are much lower, than wait to the outdoors and find yourself playing catch-up.

Competition opportunities in the UK have been really scarce even though the government have given exemptions for elite sport to continue.

This has been quite frustrating as a lot of countries across Europe have been staging Covid-safe competitions.

Despite this, Scottish Athletics held an elite-only competition which I was able to enter.

It felt extremely nerve-wracking, racing for the first time in almost 500 days and I definitely felt very rusty.

Initially I wasn’t pleased with my performance as I felt I was in quicker shape than what I’d run.

However, after reflecting, I realised that it was actually my quickest ever opener over the 400m.

It also gained me selection as part of the relay team for the 4x400m at the European Indoor Championships.

I was selected as the fifth member of the relay so I knew I wouldn’t be in the final four.

I was there more as back-up in case anyone picked up an injury or tested positive for Covid.

More importantly, I really wanted to gain experience as being part of the GB relay team as this is something I am aiming towards in the future.

When you go away to championships, you get a really good opportunity to do some relay training with the national coaches which includes baton practice and technical sessions.

Likewise, after a year of being in lockdown and spending all of my time either at home or at the track, it was a much-needed mental break to be in a competitive environment again.

It has really whetted my appetite for the summer season and the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics. Nothing else quite replicates that championship environment and the feeling you get being part of it.

It was also encouraging to see that a major sports event can go ahead again safely during these strange times.

All athletes were tested before we flew out, as soon as we arrived in Poland and again before we left for home.

Whilst we were there we were bubbled with our team and only allowed out of our hotel to attend the track.

Because of these stringent measures, there were only three positive cases of Covid throughout the whole championships.

These athletes were not allowed to race and I really did feel for them as athletes train so hard for very few glory moments.

To have that taken away can be really tough.

But safety has to be prioritised and I’m hopeful that the Olympic organisers will implement similar strategies to keep the games safe for the athletes.

I’m really looking forward to this summer’s Olympics.

After having it rescheduled, the desire to represent my country on the highest stage is stronger than ever and I can’t wait to make Great Britain and Doncaster proud.