Athletics: Alisha following advice of man who has been there, done that

North-east sprinter Alisha Rees hopes to follow in the footsteps of her coach Leon Baptiste by making a big impact at this summer’s world junior track and field championships.

The 18-year-old former Banchory Academy pupil is now studying sociology at Loughborough University where she is also furthering her athletics career.

Prior to heading south last September, Rees was coached by Banchory Stonehaven AC’s Willy Russell.

But she is now under the guidance of Baptiste, the 2010 Commonwealth Games 200m and 4x100m gold medallist.

Baptiste first made his breakthrough at international level in 2003 when he struck gold in the 100m at the 2003 European junior championships at Tampere in Finland – the venue for this year’s world championships in which Rees will challenge for a podium position in the 200m and 4x100m relay.

The Aberdeenshire athlete said: “The world championships are my main target for the year.

“I’ll aim to win the English championships to get automatic selection and once I get to Finland I’ll try to get to the final then take things from there.”

Rees has already enjoyed international success, having helped Great Britain win team bronze in the 4x100m at last summer’s European junior championships in Italy where she was fourth in the individual 200m.

She hopes her move to Loughborough will help take her to an even higher level, although it hasn’t all been plain-sailing so far.

She said: “I am really enjoying being at Loughborough. It’s so much easier to get the training done because everything you need is on the doorstep.

“I have a great training group which includes James Dasaolu, the 2014 European 100m champion, and Scotland international Beth Dobbin, who is running similar times to me.

“Leon is coaching me and he really knows his stuff. I am learning so much all the time.

“Unfortunately, however, I have missed quite a bit of training because of injuries which had nothing to do with running.

“First of all I pulled an intercostal muscle in my ribs. I don’t really know how it happened but I had a cough at the time and that may have triggered it.

“Then I had a back problem which the physio said may have been a knock-on impact from the intercostal issue. I missed about six or seven weeks although I was able to do some other exercises and I was on the bike, but it wasn’t ideal.

“Anyway, I am fine again now and I’m back in full training, so hopefully everything will progress from here.”

Rees’ injuries have forced her to re-evaluate her winter racing plans and it is unlikely she will compete during the indoor season. She said: “The indoor season is not on the cards at the moment. I would have been competing but I don’t see there’s much point if I’m not at the level I want to be at, so we might just focus now on getting ready for the outdoors starting in April.

“The world championships is the main one but I’d also like to do the Scottish senior championships again and try for a fourth win in a row in the 200m.”