Hatti Dean recounts her race to a brilliant 4th place in her debut at the 2010 European Athletics Championships

Hatti Dean participating in the European Athletics Championships 2010

I qualified for the European Athletics Championships by the skin of my teeth. For the 6 weeks before the GB trials I hadnít run for 2 weeks due to injury.

At the trials I missed the qualifying time for my event Ė the 3000m steeplechase - of 9:40 by just 0.69 seconds.

My luck changed the next weekend when I achieved the qualifying standard by 0.00 seconds Ė running 9:40.00 24 hours before the deadline.

I travelled to the training camp in Portugal feeling extremely grateful to be going, and that anything more would be a bonus. For 10 days I enjoyed being a full-time athlete and concentrating fully on training and, maybe most importantly, getting more rest.

The championships began on July 27 and there were some good British performances on that first day, notably with a Gold-Silver in the Menís 10000m. This kick-started a positive atmosphere amongst the Brits which remained all the way through the championships and really motivated everyone.

On the 2nd day I went into my heat thinking that if I ran really well I could qualify for the final as a fastest loser. I took on the pace fairly early to make sure the race was fast, all the time expecting half the field to come surging past me. To my surprise no-one did, and with 2 laps to go I was running at the front of a breakaway group of 3. I managed not to fall into the water jump and was delighted to finish in an automatic qualifying spot.

That race gave me so much confidence, and I was now aiming for the top 6 in the final. The noise and atmosphere for the final were something Iíd never experienced before. A Spaniard was one of the favourites and the Spanish crowd were chanting her name with a relentless fervour.

I managed not to get over-excited and started the race controlled, working my way through the field and gaining confidence with every person I overtook. I didnít realise I was close to getting a medal until 300m to go when I noticed I was in 4th place. I kicked all the way to the finish but Iíd started my surge too late and finished less than 1 second behind 3rd.

I think I was the happiest 4th place finished in the entire championships then! I knew Iíd done my best but it didnít stop me from being slightly disappointed when I found out that the medallists all got their hair done before the medal ceremony!

Hatti Dean

Hatti leads the Statistical Evaluation and Analytical Team in the DWP Disability and Work Division

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Postscript: Hattiís successful 2010 did not end with the T&F championships as she returned to Portugal in December to contest the senior womenís race in European cross-country championships in Albufeira. She emphasised her versatility by claiming an excellent 7th place in 27.08 as she led home the GB and NIís silver medal winning team. Photo by David Wood.

 

 

Tony Croft

 

 

 

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