The athlete: Lisa Dobriskey

For Lisa Dobriskey the Beijing Olympics might have been one of those breaking points which so regularly invite a young athlete to step back from the challenge that has consumed so much of their lives. She had had the opportunity to reach out for the kind of achievement that made Kelly Holmes a Dame and Rebecca Adlington the instant darling of the British sports public.

A drug bust had stripped the women's 1,500 metres of some of its most potent contenders, including the Russians Yelena Seboleva and Tatyana Tomashova. But Dobriskey, who won Commonwealth gold two years ago, finished one place out of the medals.

"At such a time," says Dobriskey, "it is hard to contain your disappointment. You think of all the work you have done and all the optimism you took to the track." Then, if you are determined enough, you realign your ambitions and swear that you will do the work all over again.

"After Beijing I had to ask myself how much I wanted to taste the kind of success enjoyed by Kelly Holmes in Athens and the other British women who stood at the top of the podium." There are not so many: Holmes, Mary Rand, Ann Packer, Mary Peters, Tessa Sanderson, Sally Gunnell, Denise Lewis and Christine Ohuruogu. Dobrisky saw Ohuruogu join the pantheon and realised the depth of her ambition.

You might think at the age of 24 Dobriskey has gone beyond the circle of gilded youth. But on the track she remains almost a baby. Holmes was 30 when she gained Olympic bronze at Sydney and she went to Athens under a shadow of persistent injury. Dobriskey argues that she will bounce back stronger from her disappointment. It is a resolve that will make her one of the most compelling stories of London 2012.

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