CurraNZ ambassador, British track runner Adelle Tracey, reveals the highs and lows of chasing Olympic qualification for one of the most hotly contested women's categories, the 800m. In this fascinating account, Adelle shows the steel required for her craft, with the World Champs and Commonwealth Games in 2022 now in her sights.
Adelle writes: At the beginning of 2021, I headed to Houston with my friend Steph Twell (a marathon runner) to prepare for the indoor season. Covid restrictions meant no gym/track access for most of 2020 but I made good progress over the winter months.
I was grateful to get to the US for training consistency, just after the UK went into lockdown. Steph and I worked as assistant coaches at Rice University (Houston) with the Woman’s track and field team, using the facilities and mentoring some of the girls which was really fun.
I intended to compete in Europe the following month, but we decided to stay and race indoors, competing in two American track league indoor races - Arkansas and the New Balance Grand Prix. Houston was hit with winter storms causing power outages and loss of water. It was challenging training in -12 degrees and snow and returning to a house with no running water or heat! Eating pancakes by candlelight and playing scrabble in bed was a highlight. Racing at an outdoor meet in Texas in February I was pleased to run 2.01 over 800m, the earliest I’d opened my outdoor season.
Despite qualifying for the European indoor championships, my coach and I decided to put all our effort into running the Olympic qualifying time (OQT) early in the season in the US. We headed to altitude in Flagstaff, Arizona, an amazing but tough training environment at 7000ft.
On to the Mt. SAC relays (LA) and I was over the moon to run the OQT with a new personal best of 1.59.50. Later that week I raced a bronze continental tour meet, in another sub 2 minute 800m and finishing third. After five months in America I was so pleased to finish on a high, making my time away from home and family worthwhile.
Back in the UK I was selected for the European Team Championships but had to decline. I had the OQT and decided to prioritise recovery after running 1500M at the Gateshead Diamond league and experiencing foot issues. Before the British Championships we headed to Font Romeu in the Pyrenees to prepare, as altitude had worked so well previously. I trained hard for three weeks in the mountains and felt in great shape.
Despite being in good form, the woman’s 800m was the most competitive to date and I just missed my goal of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics. This was heart-breaking but I knew I had done everything to put my best foot forward and I had to be proud of that. After the Olympic trials I was completely mentally and physically drained. I managed to run 2 minutes over 800m but honestly felt like an empty shell of myself.
I spent July continuing to build on my fitness and took some time to see friends and family (whom I hadn’t seen since 2020) having been in a constant cycle of Covid isolation. This really helped me heal from the disappointment and find the motivation to continue the season.
In August, I was pleased to run a PB of 4.06.56 over 1500m, a Commonwealth Qualifying time for next year’s games in Birmingham. Enjoying myself after the disappointment of the trials, it was a great finish to the European season. I learnt how essential exercise can be when things are stressful or far from ideal.
Next season, there are four major championships to prepare for and I would definitely like to compete at the World Championships (Eugene, USA) and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022.