Tina Faulkner’s greatest race so far was in the 2016 Australian final 1500m.
She and fellow Scottish member Ariana Harper had travelled over to compete at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium.
“It was a huge achievement for me to make the final.”
She had made the same trip the previous year but did not make it through to the final.
This year, however, Faulkner (née Harris) qualified for the final in her heat on Thursday evening as the slowest qualifier on time.
Her 4:22.90 qualifying time was less than half a second slower than the personal best she had set earlier that year at the Porritt Classic.
In fact, 2016 was an incredible year for Tina.
Prior to that summer, she had not broken 4:30 for several years. Now this 4:22 qualifying time was her third time under 4:25 in less than two months. A month earlier she had come fourth at the New Zealand Championships in Dunedin.
By Saturday evening before the final Tina was struggling to contain her anticipation.
“I was ridiculously nervous!”
She was in a field with three soon to be Rio Olympians – Jenny Blundell, Zoe Buckman and Linden Hall as well as Heidi See, and who had competed at the World Champs the previous year and was reigning Australian 1500m champion.
Tina says she saw all these runners at the warm-up tent but she tried to block them out.
“It was also so hot that I had to conserve energy on my warm-up. I had to think how to calm myself down.”
“I was the oldest in the field by at least four years, racing against all these girls in their mid-twenties.”
But everyone else was nervous too. The television cameras were rolling and it was the real thing.
Tina says what she remembers of the race was being disappointed that there was not a time caller at the start line. So she did not see a clock except at the finish line.
She had to stick to a manageable pace by feel. She says she was near the back which was fine and she got into a rhythm.
Watching the race you can see that, while Tina is near the back the field, it is very tightly bunched for the first two and a half laps and Tina drifts, first wide, then onto the line, as the runners jostle each other for space.
She looks to be falling off the pace as the leaders push for home from about 450m metres out. But then she rallies and passes a couple of the field to finish eighth out of a field of 11
During the race Tina had been spiked, so she and the big gash on her leg, were quickly escorted off to the first aid tent and did not get much time to catch up with the other racers.
She finished with a 67-second lap and had run another personal best, 4:20.08. She was “incredibly stoked”.
Since that night Tina has had a couple of injuries so her Scottish club-mates and supporters have not had much chance to see her run.
However, she hopes that her latest calf injury is behind her and that she might be fit for the road season. If not, we will see her on the track this coming summer.