European Athletics Championships 2014: Lynsey Sharp looks to write new chapter into already extraordinary season

800m runner looking to add European gold to her Commonwealth Games silver

athletics correspondent

It was four simple words written on her hand – “get out strong, commit” – picked up by the television cameras as Lynsey Sharp lay on the Hampden Park track not quite believing she had won Commonwealth silver medal.

She had not slept and that morning her arm had been attached to a drip in hospital, but she still believed she had the mental fortitude to pick up a medal and so it proved.

Whether the 24-year-old defending European champion will put pen to hand before the 800m heats in Zurich tomorrow remains to be seen but the idea has caught on.

Her coach, Terrence Mahon, had joked she had taken the measure only because of her bad memory, and Sharp said: “I didn’t mean for the thing to have such a massive effect. But I have had so many messages from people saying like, ‘I have had surgery, you have inspired me’ and people have now written things on their hands doing charity walks and stuff. It has been nice to see.”

That final has given to Sharp a self-belief she had never experienced. The build-up to the Europeans has not been without its gremlins, either. Sharp endured a 16-hour trip from her Loughborough base to the British team hotel on the outskirts of Zurich because of the residual effects of Hurricane Bertha. “That’s just what this year has been like,” she said.

In truth, Sharp is just happy to be standing on two feet after a serious Achilles injury which required three operations and wiped out last season. It left her wondering if she might ever run again and even now she needs regular treatment. “To have two championships that mean so much to me in one season is amazing especially after not knowing whether I was going to have a season at all,” she said.

Sharp’s father, Cameron, a peer of Olympic champion Allan Wells, competed here at the Stadion Letzigrund.

The venue now gives her a chance to win the European title on the track rather than 18 months later, as happened last time when her silver behind Yelena Arzhakova was upgraded after the Russian was banned for a failed drugs test.

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