In a season as rigorous as that of one in athletics, consistency is the key. Whether it’s ensuring you stay injury free, don’t peak too late or early, or just running enough races well, it’s all essential to ensuring you perform at your best during the major championships.
Last night’s men’s 110 metre hurdles final was the perfect example of all these elements; while Pascal Martinot-Lagarde may have been the best athlete on paper, having broken the French record and become only the 3rd European to run sub-13 seconds this season, he appeared to have peaked too early this year.
Perhaps before the championships the question would have been more about how he would take his title rather than whether he would take it. Yet when it came to it the Frenchman was sluggish and was never really in contention to take gold, ultimately taking bronze, only after his teammate Dimitri Bascou had been disqualified for obstruction of his Hungarian rival.
In contrast, William Sharman and Sergey Shubenkov became good just when in it mattered, particularly Shubenkov; over the final 3 hurdles.
For Sharman, there will be a certain sense of what might have been, after being forced to settle for a second silver in just over 2 weeks. Having led up to the 7th hurdle following a great start, Sharman then suffered from a lapse of concentration, first hitting the 7th hurdle with his trail leg before his momentum saw him clatter the 8th with his lead.
In an instant his chances of victory had gone, with defending champion Shubenkov reaping the rewards of his mistake. Once the world outdoor bronze medallist had the gold medal in his grasps it was clear that he wasn’t going to relinquish it, and so that fight was on for silver.
While his fight could have been ended following his slip up, Sharman showed how his consistent performances on the tour this season have strengthened his resolve. Pushing through the line, fighting for his life, the Brit gave everything he could to gain an advantage over his rivals, chest pushed out; he grabbed silver by the smallest of margins.
Despite his understandable disappointment, there are more than a few things that he can draw positives from, not least running a personal best time in the semi-final, in-turn breaking the 13.20 barrier for the first time.
Even though his Russian opponent got the better of him, the fact that he beat Martinot-Lagarde, will give Sharman confidence for the rest of the season and looking further ahead to the world championships next year. Where if he wants to build on a his brilliant top 5 performances on the last 3 to finally make the podium he will have to outsprint rivals, with personal bests likely to be at least 0.2 faster than his.
Before that, the hurdler will get another chance to make the podium at the inter-continental cup, in Marrakech. Given the form he is in and the experience he has of championship racing this summer, top 3 is more than an attainable target.
On another note, completing the set of consistency factors was Lawrence Clarke, as he was forced to unfortunately pull of the final having picked up a last minute injury. It was a cruel ending to a frustrating season for the Brit who has struggled to get back to the form of 2012 where he finished 4th in the Olympic final.
Once he’s back to full fitness and David Omoregie has made the full transition it’s likely that Sharman, will not be the only Brit consistently reaching the podium in major competitions.