Northumberland’s Laura Weightman switches distance for the Commonwealth Games

Athlete Laura Weightman pictured at Leeds Beckett University by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
Athlete Laura Weightman pictured at Leeds Beckett University by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Laura Weightman has spoken of her delight after being selected for England’s Commonwealth Games squad and is relishing the challenge of competing at a new distance.

The 26-year-old, from Lesbury, has been named in the 75-strong team which has been chosen for the prestigious championships, to be staged next April on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.

But for Weightman, the competition will herald uncharted territory, as she will be switching from her normal 1500m to compete in the 5,000m.

She admits that she did not take the decision to change distances lightly – especially as she won 1500m silver at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 – but she is determined to make her mark in the 5,000m.

The Leeds-based Morpeth Harrier said: “It is really exciting and it will be the first time in a major championships that I have raced in the 5,000m.

“I felt like 2018 was the year to have a different challenge and I am really looking forward to it. In many respects, 2018 is an experimental year for me.”

While it is new ground for Weigtman to cover, she believes she has the weapons in her arsenal to compete at the longer distance.

And she is buoyed by the fact that she easily ran the 15min 22sec qualifying standard in America earlier this year – clocking 15min 08sec.

She said: “I am naturally suited to longer distances because I have got good strength, but it will be a challenge and I will be working hard on building my endurance base over the winter.

“It was a hard decision and I spent a lot of time thinking about whether to switch things up.

“After all, winning the silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in the 1500m was incredible, but I just felt that it was time to do something different.

“But I do still feel that I have got a lot more to give in the 1500m and I haven’t run my last 1500m race.”

With that in mind, Weightman, who is coached by Steve Cram, says that she will be switching back to the 1500m for the European Championships in August.

But what this will mean for her long-term future isn’t quite so clear.

She said: “We will see what happens in 2018. Steve and I have spoken about where do we see ourselves moving forward.

“I want to be at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, but whether that will be the 1500m or 5,000m, I don’t know.”

Weightman, who has thanked everyone in Northumberland for their continued support, goes into the winter season – which will consist of cross-countries and road racing – on the back of an impressive 2017.

The middle-distance star finished sixth in the women’s 1500m at the World Championships in London and recorded the fastest ever road mile by a British woman, clocking 4:17.62 in the New York 5th Avenue Road Mile, coming second in the process.

And it came after British Athletics withdrew financial support from her towards the end of 2016.

She said: “2017 was a massive year for me and I am incredibly proud of what I achieved. To say that I am sixth in the world is incredible.

“I showed what I can do and proved that I am good enough. I have got a great team around me and I did my talking on the track.”