WRITTEN FOR ATHLETICS WEEKLY MAGAZINE
Instead of returning to Loughborough later this month to begin completion of her final-year university course, 400m hurdler Meghan Beesley will head off to the sunnier climes of Doha and Delhi, respectively, in preparation for making her senior and commonwealth debut, writes Nicola Bamford.
The 20-year-old maths with sports science student will be on the plane to Team England’s preparation camp when her fellow undergraduates start their new semester but luckily for the Birchfield Harrier, she has the support of her institution.
Coached by Nick Dakin at her East Midlands base, Beesley will be her nation’s sole representative over the one-lap barriers in India’s October 6th-14th event but rather than being daunted by the whole experience, she is relishing it:
“I’ve not thought of it as a senior or different championship – I’ve got experience from junior championships. It would be great to get to the final but I would need a PB to get there, I’ll just be happy coming away with a PB,” Beesley explained.
“I don’t know what to expect as I’ve never been to India before, I’m just looking forward to it. Hopefully I’ll see more of India on the last day before we fly home.”
Beesley - who started her athletic life as a heptathlete, winning five national medals between 2005 and 2008 – already has a taste for lifetime bests in an injury-ravaged 2010.
First, she equalled her indoor 60m hurdles best of 8.60 at the Loughborough Open in January then carved almost one second off her 400m flat mark with a 52.91 clocking in LA in April.
Following victory in the BUCS championships and a second place at the Loughborough International, Beesley took half a second off her PB in her specialist event in France at the end of June with 56.65 before securing silver in the Aviva European trials and UK Championships behind Perri Shakes-Drayton, who later went on to capture European bronze in Barcelona, before disaster struck:
“This season started off well with two PB’s but then I got injured which was quite frustrating,” Beesley revealed.
“I got the stress fracture then tore my quad in the warm up at the trials so didn’t run again for a month. The rehab was amazing, though, so I got over it quite quickly. I’m just training for strength now. It’s good that I’ve now got the Commonwealth’s to aim for.”
With nine national medals over the barriers to date and experience from the 2007 European juniors (sixth in the 400mH and second in the 4x400m relay), 2008 World juniors (third in the 400mH) and 2009 European u23 championships (fifth in the 400mH semi-final), it is little wonder that Beesley is not thrown by the upcoming opportunity:
“It’s amazing – it still doesn’t feel real!” exclaimed Beesley. “I’m just concentrating on my training – it’ll be hard work in the next fortnight, doing lots of strength and speed endurance work but then I’ll ease down and focus on the race.”
On hoping to continue the success achieved by British one lap hurdlers, Beesley continued:
“Perri’s been incredible, what with her bronze this year and Eilidh (Child) and Natasha (Danvers-Smith) have been going well so it’s a strong event which makes you raise your game which increases the standard.
2012’s obviously on my mind but so is 2016 in Rio – I’ll be 26 then, they’re my big goals.”