Stonehaven’s Scotland international sprinter Kelsey Stewart says the 2022 Commonwealth Games 400m qualifying standard is savagely tough – but she’ll give it her best shot.
The Aberdeen AAC runner was an unused member of the 4x400m relay squad at the 2018 Gold Coast Games and is keen to play a more active part next time around.
The Birmingham qualifying standards were announced recently with performances recorded from March 1 2021 until June 15 2022 being taken into account.
The games will be held from July 28 to August 8 2022.
The women’s 400m standard of 51.98 secs is one which only six Scots have achieved in the history of the sport.
Allison Curbishley’s national record of 50.71 dates back to 1998 and the Edinburgh AC runner is followed on the all-time list by fellow Olympians Lee McConnell (Glasgow), who clocked 50.82 in 2002, and Linsey Macdonald (Pitreavie AC) whose time of 51.26 came in 1980.
Then comes Glasgow’s Mel Neef (51.18 in 1995), Aberdeen AAC’s Zoey Clark (51.36 in 2018) and Pitreavie’s Eilidh Doyle (51.45 in 2013).
Stewart said: “It’s a pretty brutal standard to reach, savage even. Hardly any women have run that time and most of them did it quite a few years ago so it’s going to be tough.
“It’s much quicker than any other year, but that’s how it is and we just have to get on with it.
“Even if I don’t get it, it will motivate me to hopefully improve on my best by trying to get there. If I can say I’ve given it my best shot, then I’ll be satisfied.”
Stewart, a two-time Scottish 400m champion, hasn’t enjoyed the best of luck since setting her current personal best time of 53.63 secs three years ago.
Ankle and hamstring injuries severely curtailed her 2019 season and this year’s campaign was all but wiped out as most competitions were cancelled.
Even a move to Wales to pursue her academic and athletics ambitions has been disrupted by the ongoing pandemic and its associated restrictions.
The 23 year-old graduated from Aberdeen University in 2019 with a first-class honours degree in exercise and health science.
She then relocated to Cardiff to study for a masters in strength and conditioning, while also taking the opportunity to come under the guidance of coach Matt Elias and his training group.
But she has now decided to defer that course and will base herself in the north-east for the foreseeable future.
Stewart said: “I just felt it’s the best thing to do under the circumstances.
“I’m now training with Eddie Mckenna’s group in Aberdeen and I’m really enjoying it. It’s good to train with Zoey Clark, Rebecca Matheson and the others. Zoey in particular makes me work harder.
“My coach in Cardiff, Matt, is happy for Eddie to look after my training and that’s really good.
“I have been able to get a good consistent spell of uninterrupted training done for the past three or four months.
“That’s something I haven’t managed for quite a long time.”