Steve Hossack: Beth Dobbin's had a tough year but it's fantastic to see her performing at elite level

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With athletics being one of my main participant sports for many years, I’ve enjoyed watching the events on the track in the three major televised championships over the summer.

Doncaster’s Beth Dobbin, the daughter of former Rovers footballer Jim Dobbin, competed in all three with mixed results.

The Sprotbrough-based sprinter made the 200m final and picked up a 4x400m relay bronze representing Scotland in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham but didn’t make any impact in the other two.

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By her own admission, Beth has not been in her best form this year and that has been reflected in her times.

Beth Dobbin in action at the Commonwealth Games. Photo: David Ramos/Getty ImagesBeth Dobbin in action at the Commonwealth Games. Photo: David Ramos/Getty Images
Beth Dobbin in action at the Commonwealth Games. Photo: David Ramos/Getty Images

But I do feel she would have qualified for the 200m semi-finals in the European’s, where she finished seventh in 2018, had she not been disqualified for the first time in her career in the first round.

Whether she would have then gone on to make the final, given the fact she has not got under 23 seconds this season, is another question such is the quality and depth of talent in women’s sprinting these days.

There are any number of sports, far more than when I was young, for youngsters to try out these days and I would encourage them to try out as many as they can to see which suits them best.

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They should certainly try out athletics even though it can be nerve-racking when you first start out.

The sport offers people of all shapes and sizes and different ranges of abilities the chance to enjoy a rewarding career and with Doncaster Athletic Club having excellent facilities at the Eco-Power Stadium complex and experienced coaches there is every reason to give it a go.

If you are a sprinter, the benefits are even more advantageous as I can personally testify.

Hundreds of hours spent sprint training and competing in 100, 200 and 400m races over the years helped me perform better than would have otherwise been the case in a range of other sports I played such as both rugby codes, football, tennis, badminton etc because being quicker than your opponents can make up for deficiencies in other aspects of your game.

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Having visited a lot of sporting clubs in the city over the years, I’ve seen first-hand how hard they train. I dropped in on a couple of gruelling early-morning Doncaster Dartes’ training sessions over the years where squads were being put through their paces before going to school.

I know from experience how hard it can be getting out of bed at 5am in the morning to go training (in my case 200 and 400m runs on nearby Pontefract Racecourse), or late in the evening, if that is the only time you can fit it in on a busy day.

The vast majority of athletes, swimmers, gymnasts, boxers etc never make the top despite putting in all the hard work, though some will enjoy local and regional success for which they should feel proud.

But some do and it has been pleasing for me to see some of the youngsters I saw training or interviewed go on to compete at the highest level.