Olympic-bound middle-distance star Laura Weightman admits she is still pinching herself after sealing a dream spot at this year’s London Games.
The 20-year-old race ace put in a sparkling performance at the weekend’s UK Athletics Aviva 2012 Trials to win the 1500m final and qualify for a place on Team GB.
And the girl from Lesbury is still trying to absorb the reality of her amazing achievement.
“It is so hard to describe in words. It is an unbelievable feeling,” she said.
“When I was little, I dreamt of going to the Olympics, and now it is going to happen.
“It is a dream come true, although it doesn’t seem real at the moment.
“I don’t think it will really hit me until I am in that stadium and on the start line.”
Morpeth Harrier Laura put herself in contention for a spot at the Games after running two Olympic A standard times, including a 4:04.88 personal best.
She knew that a top-two finish at last weekend’s trials in Birmingham would give her that dream ticket to London.
And she duly delivered.
Visibly overcome with emotion as she crossed the finish-line, Laura sealed her spot at the Games in style, coming home three seconds ahead of second-placed former Olympian Lisa Dobriskey.
Taking gold in a time of 4:18.83, Laura stayed towards the front of the pack for most of the race, before accelerating on the final lap when she heard the bell, breaking away from the rest of the field.
Reflecting on what was the most important 1500m of her life, she said: “The race plan was to stay safe and watch what everyone else was doing. I didn’t need to make it a fast race.
“I wanted to push hard on the last lap to make sure I secured my place. After I kicked at the bell I looked back and I thought ‘where is everybody?’ I didn’t expect to get such a lead.
“I hit the home straight hard and it was an unbelievable feeling when I crossed the line – I had achieved everything I ever wanted.”
The Olympic spot comes as an early birthday present for Laura, who turns 21 on Sunday.
And her success is all the more impressive considering she was plagued by injury and illness issues last year.
But she stayed strong, and has reaped the rewards.
“It made me work harder, both physically and mentally,” said Laura, who also praised coach Steve Cram for his part in her rise.
“Steve’s had a huge impact on me. He has so much experience and learning from him is an inspiration,” she said.