YORK heptathlete Jess Taylor was so convinced she would not be competing at the Commonwealths that she bought tickets for the event at the start of the year.
Last night, her cousin joined the rest of her family in what should have been her seat to watch the 25-year-old claim a shock bronze medal after a twoday display that added almost 450 points to her previous lifetime best.
Taylor, who has just completed an architecture degree in Manchester, set a new personal best in three of the seven heptathlon disciplines, and displayed considerable guts to hold on to her bronze-medal position during a gruelling 800m.
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“I just can’t believe I’ve got a bronze medal,” said Taylor. “As a family, we actually bought tickets to watch the Commonwealth Games, so I think it’s fair to say that none of this was on the radar at all. It’s ridiculous really.
“I have no idea where that came from. It’s been a ridiculous year. I’ve just finished my seven-year architecture degree, I’ve got a Commonwealth medal and I’ve put about 440 points onto my PB. It’s incredible.
To do what I’ve just done makes it the best year of my life.”
Taylor would not have been in the field had Jessica Ennis-Hill not been taking a year out after having a baby, and her position in the England team changed again when pre- Games favourite Katarina Johnson-Thompson was forced to pull out with injury and Morgan Lake opted to compete at the World Junior Championships instead.
“My ambitions changed when Kat and Morgan pulled out,” said Taylor, whose father, Peter, is a former chairman of City of York Athletics Club.
“Suddenly, it turned into me being the top girl for England, and I was just desperate to do what I could for the team.
“I haven’t really thought about the future, but now I’ve finished university, I guess I could think about focusing on full-term training for a bit.
“I hadn’t made any decisions on that prior to the Commonwealths, so I guess I’m going to have to have a think now.”