A delighted Laura Weightman won the 1500m title at the Sainsbury’s British Championships and declared: “It means everything to me.”
The track star from Lesbury got her hands on the gold medal on Saturday after holding off a late surge on the home straight from rival Laura Muir.
The Morpeth Harrier’s delight at the end of the race was clear to see; a jump for joy and large smile told its own story.
Not only did the triumph crown her the best in Britain, it also secured her a place at this summer’s European Championships.
But her outpour of emotion ran deeper than this. Victory at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium exorcised the demons of 11 months ago when she was forced to retire from the 2013 final after being caught by another runner.
Last year’s Championships ended in tears of disappointment for Weightman. This time round, there was a far happier conclusion.
“It means so much to me to win this, especially after the disaster of last year, which really did ruin my season,” said Weightman, who was injured in the 2013 fall. Victory was also an early birthday present for the Northumbrian, who turned 23 on Tuesday.
“It is just fantastic,” said the Steve Cram-coached runner.
“I wanted to win this so badly and I think my last lap, when I held off Laura Muir, really showed how determined I was.” Weightman executed her strategy perfectly. She kept herself towards the back of the field for the first part of the race, before moving to the front with about a lap-and-a-half to go. She attacked from the bell and kept her pace to hold off a late surge from Muir on the final 70 metres or so.
Reflecting on the race, which she won in 4:09.77, Weightman said: “It was quite slow and tactical, but I ran a quick final 300m. It is important that I can have that turn of pace. It was a really strong battle between myself and Laura Muir. I wanted to go hard from the bell and test myself in a championship-style race when you have to run hard on the last lap. I’m pleased it paid off.”
If last year’s nightmare early exit from the final ruined her season, then this year’s victory is setting the tone for the current campaign – and those beyond it.
Weightman has already been picked for Team England to compete at the Commonwealth Games, which start later this month.
Then in August she will represent Team GB and NI at the European Championships in Zurich.
In May, she ran a 4:02.72 personal best at the Diamond League meeting in Eugene.
She admits that she is in a good place at the moment and the London 2012 Olympic finalist admits this really is her breakthrough year.
Weightman, who also won the British Championships in 2012, said: “The Olympics was a great experience and a great year for me, but I have moved forwards from that.
“This year I am starting to run times that are world-class and am being more competitive. I am starting to show the form that is required if you want to be pushing for medals.”
This Saturday, Weightman will be competing at the Paris meeting of the Diamond League and is expecting a high-calibre field.
Weightman’s performance at the British Championships was praised by long-distance legend Paula Radcliffe.
She said: “Laura executed the tactics to perfection and you could see it meant so much to her.”
Sainsbury’s is proud to support British Athletics through the Summer Series events and committed to helping young people lead healthier, more active lifestyles. For more information visit www.sainsburys.co.uk/legacy