Running back to
PLANNING ahead remains a
necessity for any athlete and while all eyes will be on Kelly Holmes in
the first track race of the rest of her career on Saturday in Glasgow, one
lady will have Melbourne on her mind, writes Richard Lewis.
As Holmes won double
gold in Athens in August, Hayley Ovens, Scotland's leading 1500m runner,
had arguably the most difficult experience of her life with the death of
Holmes and Ovens will
appear in the same race at the Norwich Union International at the Kelvin
Hall and the Scottish star knows it does not really matter where she
finishes in the 1500m event which tops the bill.
Her year is all about
qualifying for the Commonwealth Games in Australia in 14 months time. She
will attempt to achieve that by running again at places where her mother
would always be there to watch.
It will not be the first
time that Ovens, 29, has raced against Holmes. At the last Commonwealth
Games in Manchester in 2002, they were both in the 1500m final.
Holmes won, Ovens was
last. But the experience and the memories remain.
Ovens' late mother Isa
delayed treatment for chemotherapy to watch her daughter run on that day
but in August last year, she died.
first it was very difficult," says
Ovens. "I had
been injured. I thought maybe this all marks a natural end. Then of course
some older athletes reminded me the Commonwealth Games are not far away,
and I still managed to get a PB last year.
some thought and discussion with my dad (her coach), we picked up the
pieces and got going again. We decided to give it another shot.
has been a mixture of emotions. It shows on the one hand how unimportant
athletics is, but on the other, it (Melbourne) has given us a project to
work on for my dad and my husband, who is a good training partner.
Athletics has been a very purposeful thing. I see it both ways."
Ovens' target is to
achieve the qualifying time of 4:13 for the Commonwealth Games, which take
place in March next year, to accommodate the end of an Australian summer.
She needs that mark between now and September and with a personal best of
4:10.94, she should achieve it.
Between now and then,
Ovens will run looking to improve even more, but knowing that to make this
year's world championships in Helsinki, she will have to run 4:05.
Wherever she is
competing, she knows it is likely to remind her of her mother.
She says: "She
was in Manchester at the last Commonwealth Games and on the day of the
final, she was due to have chemotherapy. She asked the doctors if she
could change the day. At first they were reluctant about it but when they
found out it was the Commonwealth Games she was going to, they managed to
think about her every day and it is quite spooky going to competitions
that she was at every year. She came to every competition and there is
always a wee space in the crowd that should be hers and she is not there.
That will be hard. We have a lot of good memories.
was 51 and I really admired my dad for keeping himself focussed and
getting me through last season and getting the family through
The five-way match
between Britain, Russia, Sweden, Italy and France on Saturday marks the
start of the major indoor season in Britain. Birmingham stages its annual
Grand Prix next month, two weeks before the European Championships in
Madrid in March.
That event is not part
of the plans for Ovens, who is thinking on to next March and Melbourne.
Soon she is heading away for warm weather training, hoping that in 12
months she will have the chance to rekindle the special feeling that
running for Scotland at a major event brings.
Ovens says: "In
Manchester it was funny. I was on the start line, someone in the crowd had
a huge Scotland flag and they shouted 'Go on Scotland' - and all of a
sudden I thought I wished I was a better athlete and for that moment I
felt I represented the whole country.
is that bit more special and it was a fantastic experience. I had not
quite expected the excitement generated from making the final.
have had nerves before a race but I have never had to deal with the
excitement that comes after a race, knowing that you are going to have to
race again the next day. It is a learning experience trying to come down
from a heat the one day and coming back the next for the final.
will be a good motivator. I don't think it will be too hot but it won't be
atmosphere will be fantastic (on Saturday). But I will be very much in
Kelly's shadow. I see it more as a race against the other athletes, not so
much Kelly, because she is in a class of her own."