Kelsey Stewart knows she has to up her game when she represents Scotland in the Loughborough international track and field meeting at Paula Radcliffe Stadium on today.
The Stonehaven-based Aberdeen AAC runner has been picked for the 4x400m relay along with her clubmate and training partner Zoey Clark.
Stewart, who was an unused member of Scotland’s relay squad at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, has raced on only a handful of occasions over the past 30 months.
Ankle and hamstring injuries severely curtailed her 2018 and 2019 seasons and last year’s campaign was all but wiped out as most competitions were cancelled due to the coronavirus.
However, she has returned to action over the past fortnight, competing in 200m races at Kilmarnock and Aberdeen.
Stewart clocked a wind-assisted 24.85secs in Ayrshire then 25.09 into the breeze at Aberdeen Sports Village.
The former GB junior international was refreshingly honest in assessing these early performances and refused to make any excuses.
She said: “These races haven’t really shown where I want to be in terms of the results.
“To be honest,I thought I was in much better nick so I’m hoping it’s simply a case of being a bit race rusty and things will click into place soon.
“It’s just good to be back racing again but I must admit I was looking for more from my performances.
“I just haven’t stepped up when I’ve needed to and that’s a fact. I haven’t been good enough over the past two weeks.
“I really hope to do much better at Loughborough or I’ll need to take a close look at why things are going wrong.I really have to get a move on.
“This will be my first Scotland appearance since 2018 and I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be good to get my first 400m done as a relay and I’m also going to get a run in the guest 200m. Hopefully that will get me going.”
Stewart has been training with Great Britain Olympic 400m hopeful Zoey Clark and other members of coach Eddie McKenna’s group at Aberdeen Sports Village.
She said: “I’m really enjoying it. It’s good having Zoey to chase in training but everyone in the group is great.
“Rebecca Matheson, who is running in the 4x100m at Loughborough, is part of it as well as guys like Struan Linton, Stewart Clark and James McIntosh.”
Stewart, who won the Scottish women’s 400m title in 2017 and 2018, hopes she’ll get the opportunity to add to her domestic honours later in the summer despite the uncertainty over fixtures.
She said: “I really don’t know what my season will be like. Races are beginning to open up here, there and everywhere but it’s difficult to have a set plan at the moment. It’s a case of seeing what’s on and taking it as it comes.
“There’s no definite date for the Scottish championships although it’s hoped they will go ahead at some time in August. If so, that’s what I’ll be aiming for.”
Aberdeen AAC’s Olympic hopeful Zoey Clark expects to have shrugged off a slight hip strain to take her place in the 400m and 4x400m relay in the Loughborough international.
The Great Britain international is aiming for a confidence-boosting performance before the final countdown towards the Olympic trials at the end of June.
Four-time Scottish 200m champion Alisha Rees (Banchory Stonehaven AC), who is based in Loughborough, tackles the 100m and 4x100m relay.
Her relay team-mates include Aberdeen AAC’s Rebecca Matheson who made her Scotland debut in the same event three years ago.
Former Aberdeen athlete Carmen Neat, who is now a student at Loughborough University, makes her first senior Scotland appearance in the high jump.