Eilidh Doyle came back from Rio with an Olympic medal in her luggage. Not in her specialist event, the 400 metres hurdles, for which she is a former European champion, but in the 4×400 relay. In her fifth exclusive column for The Mixed Zone, the Scot relates how the Games went for her and what she has planned for the future
I can’t quite believe that I’ve got an Olympic medal – it still feels pretty surreal. It’s absolutely amazing, though, and it does feel different to any of the other medals I’ve won. What’s been especially different is other people’s reaction. When I’ve come home after winning medals at other major championships people have been happy for me, but coming home from Rio with an Olympic medal has been totally different. Everyone has been so excited about it. When I went back into the University of Bath to do my first training session after getting home, everyone was asking me why I hadn’t brought my medal in because they really wanted to see it. That was really nice.
With the final itself, we knew that we had the potential to win a medal, but knowing that we could and actually doing it are two very different things. I was on the first leg – I prefer being there because I absolutely hate watching other people run, so I think it’s good for me to get my leg out of the way. I normally miss the second leg because I’m still recovering, so I start watching when the third leg is happening. Then during the final leg I’m normally just screaming my head off. In the final Emily Diamond ran an amazing leg and got us back into the medal positions. And then when you’ve got Christine Ohuruogu on the last leg, you know that you’re in a good position. When she crossed the line in third place, it was just sheer relief that it had all gone well and we’d done it.
The night we won bronze was all a bit chaotic and we were all shattered, so it was the next day that we were able to really enjoy it. We did the media interviews together and just chilled out. It was nice to be able to celebrate together. And we went to the McDonalds in the Athletes’ Village for the first time, too. We all get on really well, and as someone who usually competes as an individual, it was great to have the other girls to share the success with. For me personally it was amazing to win an Olympic medal because it’s completed my full set of medals from major championships. That’s pretty special.
I finished eighth in the final of the 400 metres hurdles. I was pleased to make the final because that was an improvement on London 2012. But immediately after the race I was disappointed at where I’d finished because I’d love to have won a medal. But I’d given it absolutely everything I could, and when I asked myself what I would have done differently, there’s nothing I would have changed. And after talking to Malcolm, my coach, and Brian, my husband, as well as some other people, they all said that I ran really well and that I could have done nothing more. So initially I was disappointed but I’m feeling OK about it now. And my result in the hurdles really drove me on for the relay because I didn’t want to go home empty-handed. So it was great to have something to show for my efforts at the end of the Games.
It was amazing to be a part of such a successful team out in Rio. Before the Games started, I thought there was no way we would beat our medal total from London. As it turned out it was our bronze in the relay that took us over our London total, although we didn’t realise it at the time because we were so focused on our race. It was fantastic to have played a part in Team GB’s success.
I flew home on the ‘victoRIOus’ flight last week which was really fun. All the relay girls got upgraded which was a great little bonus. I didn’t have any time to relax, though – I was only home for 24 hours before I flew to Lausanne for the Diamond League meet. I finished second, which means that I’m leading the Diamond League standings with only one Diamond League race to go – in Brussels on September 9. The final race is double points, though, so nothing is certain yet. I’ll need to run well there to stay on top. It would be a huge thing to win it top off a good season nicely.
Once I’ve raced in Brussels I’ll go back home to Scotland with Brian and Ben, our dog, and have a proper break. It’ll be really nice to catch up with my family and friends because it’s been a busy year. Brian and I have booked a cottage in the north of Scotland for a week at the start of October so we can just chill out. When I’m off I’ll still do some exercise, but nothing too tough. I’ll go swimming or Brian and I will take Ben out for a run. It’ll be nice not to have a strict routine to stick to because that’s what it’s like for the other 11 months of the year. And then, by mid-October, I’ll be back in full training and gearing up for an indoor season at the start of 2017. This season has been great and I ran the fastest that I’ve ever run, so I’m hoping I can build on that next year.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eilidh Doyle (formerly Eilidh Child) is a 400 metres hurdler who has represented GB for the past seven years. She is reigning European champion, as well as having won two Commonwealth silver medals and two World Championship bronze medals. She was a member of Team GB at London 2012 and is currently training for Rio 2016. Eilidh is originally from Perth but is now based in Bath with her husband, Brian, and her dog, Ben. Eilidh’s latest articles.
Eilidh was talking to Susan Egelstaff
Susan Egelstaff is an Olympic badminton player who competed at London 2012, as well as representing Scotland at three Commonwealth Games, winning two bronze medals. She retired in the aftermath of the London Games after a 12-year international career. Having written the occasional article for newspapers while still competing, she decided to try and make sports journalism a job. Susan is now a columnist and sports writer with The Herald, The Sunday Herald and The National and is a regular contributor on BBC Radio Scotland. Susan is also heavily involved with the Winning Scotland Foundation, a charity which helps children achieve their goals. Susan’s latest articles.