The gold hangs in the medal cabinet at the home she shares with her husband and coach, Trevor Painter. Carved into it are the words European Indoor Champion, the medal dating back to 2011 but, says Jenny Meadows: "I’ve no affinity with it. I never feel like European champion or like I won that race."
Meadows finished second best to Russia’s Yevgeniya Zinurova in Paris four years ago but, 16 months later, her silver was turned into gold when Zinurova was banned for a doping violation.
The 33-year-old Briton estimates she has been denied six or seven medals by Russian drug cheats in the 800 metres. But in Prague this week, she finally has the chance to win a first global title on the track, again in the European Indoors.
“It feels like my moment but I was favourite four years ago and got the silver medal,” she said.
In Paris, the tag of favourite was a burden for her to bear: “I was only ranked third in the world but it was the first time people were saying I could win a title. The silver wasn’t good enough.”
This time, Meadows is the big favourite after four of the five quickest times in the world this year, the only woman to have dipped under two minutes.
“I’m a lot more comfortable with the tag of favourite,” she said. “It doesn’t mean I’m going to win, it’s just I feel older and wiser.”
Meadows also calculates she has lost six figures in earnings, sponsorship and National Lottery funding as a result of drug cheats.
“My husband gets quite frustrated by it but I get him to pipe down as it’s not good for my psyche,” she said. “All I can focus on is taking on those girls on the track.”
But what if they are Russian? “I know I’ll always think ‘is this legit?’” she said.
Meadows and Painter sold their car as the money ran out after a litany of injuries over the past three seasons.
She estimates she has earned just 500 Euros as the world’s leading 800m runner indoors this season: “Sometimes I think ‘I need to win this race or else we’re going to struggle’. The outdoor season can’t come soon enough but it’s not about money, medals mean more. I think I’d keep doing this even if there was no money.”
Meadows would be a popular winner in Prague after all the injuries. “I just knew I couldn’t end it like that,” she said. Her aim is for a fairytale finish in Paris.Reuse content