By her own admission, discus-thrower Jade Lally was unaccustomed to the attention surrounding her when she won Commonwealth Games bronze in Glasgow last year.
And while injuries may have prevented the former Hercules Wimbledon Athletics Club member from pushing on again this summer, the 28-year-old is adamant she now has both the tools and the know-how to deal with the pressures of trying to star on the biggest stage of all at Rio 2016.
Originally nudged in the direction of the high jump due to her height, Lally soon found her calling in discus and began progressing through the ranks.
She won European Under-23 bronze in 2009 and hit the senior UK number one ranking spot two years later, but going into the Commonwealth Games in 2014, Lally had not yet troubled the senior international stage.
That all changed in the Scottish city as she threw 60.48m for third place, although the following 12 months would not be as sweet with kidney stone problems and a neck issue ruling out any chance of putting herself in the frame for the 2015 World Championships.
But Mitcham-born Lally is not one to lose heart and with the qualification A standard for Rio standing just 24cm further than her personal best of 60.76m, she insists it’s all to play for.
“For me to get to Rio, it would mean so much. But I don’t want to think about it too much and put it on a pedestal,” said the Shaftesbury Barnet Harrier.
“I need to be realistic. It’s a dream but it’s realistic for me to achieve. I just need to make sure I keep grounded and put in the hard work.
“It’s about little checkpoints, we’re in the qualification period now and it will run until July.
“I was really happy with how things went at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and was hoping to kick on but it was not possible.
“I think you can see by the photos that I was a bit shell shocked by it all, all the media attention and everything that came with getting a medal. But now I’ve had that experience I feel like I’m bettered prepared.
“Going forward, the main difference is we are going to monitor a lot of things, get more science on board and how I can get stronger and peak for the right time. It’s about putting the building blocks in place, starting with having a good winter’s training.”
Lally was speaking after being selected as an athlete ambassador for the Athlete Education Zone in collaboration with England Athletics and British Athletics Welfare Department.
Created to offer affiliated athletes access to online education and signposting resources, it will provide an insight into an athletes’ life, covering topic areas such as athlete physical and mental wellbeing, nutrition and hydration, strength and conditioning and social media.
“I think it’s very important to try and help wherever you can and give back whenever you can,” explained Lally.
“It’s an honour to be asked to get involved. Being in the public eye and being a role model you want to be a good example to others.
“Hopefully I can give athletes a bit of an insight into being a top level athlete, things like nutrition, well being, social media, all the things you have to take care of outside of training.
“I’m very heavily involved with social media so if people want to get in contact they can, and I will happily offer my advice.
“When I was younger and trying to break through it was much more difficult to find out information but with this, a lot of it is in one place.”
England Athletics “Athlete Zone” programme partners with EduCare to provide online Educational support and training to the athletics sports stars of the future. Keep up to date with the latest http://www.englandathletics.org/athletezone
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