First published in the Scottish Mail on Sunday (23/8/15)
By: Euan Crumley
IT’S a long way from Meadowbank Stadium to the Bird’s Nest in Beijing — but that’s the journey two Scottish athletes who set out in the sport together on that Edinburgh track will complete in the coming days. There have been a few stops along the way since they first met at under-13 level, but now Chris O’Hare and Lynsey Sharp find themselves taking on the world.
Their careers have followed a similar line of progression, while both have demonstrated in recent years a shared desire to squeeze every last drop out of themselves in the pursuit of honours. And despite O’Hare now calling Boston home and Sharp being based in Loughborough, they have the same coach.
The work of Terrence Mahon of the Boston Athletic Association has helped both Scots to win European medals — and, in Sharp’s case, a Commonwealth silver. But competing on the World Championships stage in China will be their toughest assignment yet.
To that end, the key training sessions they have endured together on the Harvard University track have been designed to enable peak performances. O’Hare admits, too, that life will be made that bit easier running in the Worlds by seeing particularly familiar faces around the team hotel.
‘Lynsey and I have known each other since we were tiny,’ said the 24-year-old, who will tackle the 1,500 metres heats on Thursday, while Sharp’s 800m bid gets going on Wednesday. ‘Back then (they are both still attached to Edinburgh AC), it was Edinburgh Woollen Mill and City of Edinburgh.
‘She had a more successful junior career than I did, but we’ve kind of hit the main milestones around relatively the same time. It’s funny that now we have the same coach.
‘Terrence will be the first one to say he loves the fact that Lynsey and I are very similar in our outlook to athletics. We’re both ready to be world beaters.
‘We’re a bit more emotionally invested in really hoping the other does well, whereas with everybody else, you hope they do well because they are your British team-mate.
‘Before you leave for the track, the whole team wishes you luck. That’s nice but when Lynsey or when Laura (Muir) wishes me luck, it’s a bit more personal and means a bit more. I think we can all be confident going into the Championships.’
O’Hare has good reason to be optimistic. Some fine tuning following his second place in this summer’s British Championships resulted in him beating his 1,500m personal best by over a second in Belgium last month with a time of 3min 34.83secs and helped earn him a place on the plane to China.
‘I’m feeling confident,’ he added. ‘I’m in shape for maybe even two seconds faster than that (3:34).’ O’Hare was 12th in the 1,500m final in the World Championships in 2013, but is looking to improve on that placing this time. ‘I’m a lot stronger now,’ he added. ‘I’m a lot quicker and more mature. I’m ready to go.’