LAURA WEIGHTMAN is confident her Commonwealth Games exploits will not hamper her chances of claiming a second senior medal in the final of the European Athletics Championships on Friday.
Less than a fortnight after producing one of the best runs of her life to claim a silver medal in the Commonwealth final in Glasgow, Weightman returned to the track in Zurich yesterday morning to compete in the 1,500m heats at the Europeans.
The Morpeth Harrier produced a controlled performance to finish fourth in her heat and claim the final automatic qualifying spot for Friday’s final, which is likely to be every bit as competitive as the final at the Commonwealth Games.
Her leading rivals, Sweden’s Abeba Aregawi and Holland’s Sifan Hassan, have had a lengthy period of rest in the build-up to the Europeans, whereas Weightman will be running her fourth major race in the space of a fortnight when she lines up on Friday night.
But while the 23-year-old admits it would have been easy to become caught up in the excitement of her first major championship medal, she is confident her Commonwealth success will act as a springboard to an even more impressive run at European level.
“I went straight home after the Commonwealths and managed to get out of the environment where it was all really exciting,” said Weightman, whose coach, Steve Cram, was once again in the BBC commentary box as she qualified yesterday morning.
“I went back to Leeds (where she is based) and just chilled out and regrouped. I’ve come here and feel refreshed and ready to go again for a new challenge.”
She could hardly have been any more composed as she booked her passage from yesterday’s opening round, tracking the leaders throughout before just doing enough in the home straight to ensure she finished in a top-four position.
There looked to be plenty more in the tank as she finished in 4:10.55, and while Aregawi and Hassan caught the eye as heat winners, it will be a surprise if Weightman is not in medal contention as Friday’s final reaches its climax.
Fellow Briton Hannah England also progressed to the final as one of the fastest losers, but Laura Muir missed out after finishing down the field in the opening heat.
“I’m pleased to qualify,” said Weightman. “It was a bit messy out there because it was so slow. Everyone was panicking and pushing for position. But I stayed calm and relaxed and came through in the last 200m to claim the automatic spot.”
Weightman is one of three North-East athletes competing at the European Championships, with Middlesbrough’s Chris Tomlinson due to contest Friday’s long jump qualifying round and Stockton’s Richard Kilty part of the British squad for the 4x100m relay having claimed a silver medal in the same event at the Commonwealths.