The dust has settled and the Games are over. Now Olympian Laura Weightman says she will look at what she can do to become one of the world’s best middle-distance runners.
The 25-year-old from Lesbury arrived back in England on Tuesday after her inspirational exploits in Brazil, which saw her finish 11th in the women’s 1500m final last week.
By her own admission, the performance inside Rio’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, August 16 (local time), has left her with mixed emotions.
While the Team GB star is delighted to have competed in her second Olympic final – on the back of London 2012 – she is disappointed with her display on the greatest stage.
The athlete inside her is not content to finish towards the back of the pack – regardless of the strength in depth of women’s 1500m running and the high calibre of competitors she was racing against in the final.
And it’s this drive and determination which has led her to admit that she needs to sit down with her coach Steve Cram and see what can be done to take her performances to an even greater level.
Speaking to the Gazette on Tuesday from her home in Leeds, she said: “Steve and I need to sit down and look at my season and see where we can go next and see what we can do to help me bridge the gap so I can become one of the world’s best 1500m runners.
“I am 100 per cent with Steve; it is a case of looking at what can we do differently in training and what tweaks we can make.”
Weightman even admits that she could see herself switching to the 5000m later in her career.
But for now, her focus and attention is very much on the 1500m and she is even returning to the track at the start of next month for a Diamond League fixture in Zurich, Switzerland.
After all, this talented Northumbrian has a 1500m Commonwealth silver medal and European bronze on her CV. And of course, two Olympic finals under her belt.
As for that night in Rio, the ambitious Morpeth Harrier is her biggest critic; frustrated by her 11th-place finish – the same result as in the final in London four years earlier.
Running with dressing on her right shin after sustaining a spike wound in the semi-final two days previously, Weightman had topped the field in the early exchanges of the final, which was a slow and tactical affair.
It wasn’t until later that the real running for home started and Weightman would eventually cross the line in 4:14.95.
Commonwealth champion Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon, of Kenya, took gold in 4:08.92, while the silver went to world champion and 1500m record-holder Genzebe Dibaba. of Ethiopia. The USA’S Jennifer Simpson took bronze. Weightman’s Team GB colleague Laura Muir finished seventh.
Reflecting on the final, and the Games as a whole, Weightman said: “It is hard to sum up the Olympic experience in words other than saying it was incredible.
“I am honoured to have represented Team GB in Rio and I am proud that I made my second Olympic Games final.
“But I am disappointed I wasn’t able to finish higher and be more competitive and I am frustrated with my performance and I will keep working hard.
“I could have been more competitive, but physically I couldn’t have done any more. I did everything in the race to get the most out of myself.
“Making the final is very difficult in itself, as is the strength of women’s 1500m running, but the athlete in me always wants to do better.”
The final might have been bitter-sweet for Weightman, but her fans have described her as an inspiration and the pride of the county, with messages of support and congratulations being left on social media.
Weightman said: “I would like to thank everyone for their messages of support, it means a lot.”
The strength of women’s 1500m running is unquestionable, but the reputation of the sport has also been tarnished over the last few years, with five of the top nine finishers in the final of London 2012 subsequently facing performance-enhancing drug allegations.
Weightman has previously said that drug cheats should be banned for life, but she believes the final in Brazil won’t be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
She said: “The Rio final was a lot better than London. My eyes have been opened a lot more in recent years and we have come an awful long way in the past four years and that was a much better final.
“I’m delighted for the medallists – Faith Kipyegon is lovely and for Jenny Simpson to get a bronze is fantastic.”
Weightman did not mention Genzebe Dibaba, though. The Ethiopian has been under fire for her relationship with coach Jama Aden, who is being investigated by the IAAF’s doping authorities. When quizzed about doping at the medallists’ press conference, Kipyegon and Dibaba insisted they were clean.