The weather in Gateshead was a deciding factor in nearly all of the events. Times might now have been fast, but the level of competition is what it is all about.
Cindy Sember wins in Gateshead
The 100m hurdles race at Gateshead ended as follow
1 Cindy SEMBER 13.28
2 Luca KOZÃK 13.37
3 Luminosa BOGLIOLO 13.45
4 Tiffany PORTER 13.50
The times are meaningless with the athletes battling cold, rain and a -3.9 wind. Cindy said afterward: “I am very pleased with that race. To keep it together in those conditions was pleasing. Wow, that negative 3.9 wind, I don’t think I have ever run in that much wind so to keep it together and execute the race well it really could have been a lot worse”.
On paper, Cindy’s sister and training partner, Tiffany Porter would have been expected to be her closest rival but Tiffany could only finish fourth. It has been a good year for Cindy, following two PRs, she currently sits fifth on the world-leading list with 12.53.
In the Rio Olympics, Cindy was fourth, missing a bronze medal by hundredths of a second. Rio 2016 seemed to be her breakthrough onto the world stage but then in early 2017, she suffered an Achilles rupture in a race in Boston. 2018-20 were hard years, as she rehabbed, trained, fought niggles, and competed including at the World Championships in Doha 2019 but just couldn’t get her time below 12.85.
“2021 has gone well”, she told me, adding: “I knew I had these times in me but I just haven’t been able to run them because of injuries and lack of competition. So to be reaching the levels that I’ve always been kind of capable of is very exciting. The times have been very consistent and what is particularly encouraging is that I had been in very heavy training. So to run those times on heavy legs makes me feel that when I’m tapering, and closer to champs, I should be able to continue to get faster. I’m very encouraged, very inspired. The big thing is that it’s nice to be healthy. The mental aspect of confidence in your body”.
She explained how coming out of lockdown was a big boost: “Life is not quite normal but a bit more normal. I am able to travel. I get Covid-tested once a week plus more at meets. Wearing a mask everywhere at warm-up, at track meets, and even at a store. Compared to last year, things do seem more normal because last year they are hardly any competitions and we were training in weird places. At least the more consistency in our life now. So we’re definitely back to a more normal lifestyle now. That’s so important in our event because we need competition to get back into our rhythm. That’s why I have been racing earlier than usual because my coach and I feel I need to get the rhythm, the repetition helps in our event. I feel fortunate to be able to compete as much as I did last year so it doesn’t seem strange as if I hadn’t”.
Having missed the 2017 World Championships through injury and not being able to reach the final in 2019 as she struggled to get back from injury, the postponed Tokyo Olympics represents a major opportunity to show that she is back and competitive. The next big race will be the GB Championships and the Olympic selection trials in late June from where all roads lead to Tokyo. At least Tokyo will be warmer than Gateshead!