WRITTEN FOR TEAM 2012 VISA (ON MARCH 16TH)
With four medals from the past four major championships, 800m supremo Jenny Meadows has set her sights on capturing her first international gold this summer, with a view to further glory in 2012, writes Nicola Bamford.
Just a fortnight ago, the 29-year-old claimed European indoor silver to add to her impressive silverware collection which boasts global indoor silver, continental outdoor bronze and world outdoor bronze from the past two years alone.
In Paris earlier this month, Meadows ended her mixed indoor season with her latest medal after finishing a disappointing fifth in the UK 400m championship, bouncing back to a 1:59.22 season’s best in Birmingham and ahead of anchoring Team GB to the 4x400m silver medals in France just over an hour after the 800m final.
Although her achievements have been most promising since her breakthrough into world-class at the 2009 World championship event – registering 1:57.93 to go to third on the British all-time list - the ‘pocket rocket’ middle-distance runner still aches for gold:
“I am definitely one of the most consistent members of the British athletics team but I was hoping for gold and it was not meant to be,” Meadows explains.
The British number-one for the past three seasons, Meadows’ tough self-assessment derives from enjoying a successful yet injury-plagued 2010, where she recorded a national indoor record of 1:58.43 and claimed World indoor silver in Doha, Qatar.
“2010 started so well with two national indoor records and the silver but then I picked up an Achilles injury that was to last the entire outdoor season,” the eight-time national winner reveals.
“At one point, I thought that I would not be able to compete at the European Championships in Barcelona but thankfully my physio's got me to the line and I was delighted at the time to win a bronze medal.”
Indeed, Meadows was forced to miss the final of the continental trials and UK Championships but bounced back after Spain to finish fourth for Team Europe in the IAAF VTB Continental Cup in Split, Croatia to end a frustrating year.
Coached by her husband Trevor Painter and based in Wigan and Manchester for training, Meadows has, despite the collection of near-misses to the top spot, come a long way since her days in the one-lap event.
Still an established member of the relay squad today, Meadows started out as an international 400m athlete with a best of 52.50 from the 2005 season, which places her as thirteenth on the UK all-time indoor marks.
Further still, she took the national indoor crown in 2003 and scorched to a 51.64 relay leg in 2006 before switching her full focus to the longer event and with greater success despite the high-level of domestic competition:
“The women's 800m is always competitive domestically in the UK,” Meadows explains.
“It can only be healthy for the sport and the athletes alike.”
Having previously worked as Manchester Lesiure’s head athletics coach before turning full-time as an athlete, Meadows is keen to praise the support of her husband in guiding her to her current status:
“Trevor is a fundamental link in my support network - his role is so diverse and he always manages to do it with passion and a smile on his face!” she reveals.
At present, they have good reason to smile, too, for Meadows should find herself in a strong position to fight for that illusive gold medal at this summer’s World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.
Eager to improve on her silver two years ago, the intention is to use 2011 as a springboard to greater success in 2012 and after failing to reach the Olympic final in Beijing 2008, Meadows has extra impetus to succeed in the London Games seventeen months from now.
“The next few years will be my last in the sport so I hope that I can continue to win as many championship medals that are on offer,” explains Meadows, who will open her outdoor campaign in Shanghai in May.
“(After my career) I would like to go into a sports-related media role, as I studied media and English at college and university.”
An interesting choice, as Meadows should indeed have plenty to talk about on a career which will hopefully finish on a golden note.