A series of injuries resulted in Laura Weightman having to watch from the sidelines as her team-mates excelled at major champs but the European and Commonwealth medallist is confident of still making a mark
Laura Weightman is smiling, but it’s been a rough morning. First, she endured swimming in a cold pool, then – just when she needed it least – there was the added challenge of having to persevere with a cold shower. Relatively speaking, the leisure centre’s broken heating was only a minor issue. It’s the series of connected injuries which led to knee surgery in September of last year that have truly tested her resolve.
The two-time European 1500m medallist, who had just started to explore her full potential over 5000m with a seventh-place in the 2019 World Championships final, was in fantastic shape when a seemingly innocuous knee niggle briefly interrupted her rhythm. She didn’t dwell on it. In fact, in 2020 – a lockdown year to forget for many athletes – she recorded personal best times over 1500m (4:00.09), 5000m (14:35.44) and 5km (15:10). “I thought it [the niggle] was a bit strange, but it was fine, so we cracked on,” says the 31-year-old Morpeth athlete.
Soon, things weren’t fine, though. Weightman tore her soleus central tendon (in her calf) in November 2020 and didn’t run again until early January 2021. She worked her way back to fitness with a period of base training in the UK followed by an altitude camp in Boulder, Colorado, where, according to her coach Steve Cram, she was doing workouts she’d never done before. “I was absolutely flying,” she reflects. “There were some really positive signs.”
Then, in the May leading into the 2021 British Championships which doubled as the Olympic trials, the grumbling knee returned. “We just couldn’t pinpoint it,” she says, her frustration still evident. “Then I tore my left hamstring the week of the trials.”
While that issue was an unwanted disruption which thwarted any Olympic ambitions, it was relatively minor. A “niggling” lateral Achilles followed in the August and, in September, Weightman got Covid. She took the opportunity to briefly pause and re-set.
Like the incredible workouts in Boulder, a return to racing after six weeks of training and a 31:44 clocking at the Ribble Valley 10km – her second-fastest time ever over the distance – provided hope and motivation to push on.
A great training camp in…
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