Former European 800m champion is delighted to make a return to the track following the birth of her son and a series of injuries but she says she now feels like a very different athlete

As most new parents will testify, time is of the essence. For athletes specifically, no longer does there exist a great chasm between day and night, empty hours filled by training and the luxury of uninterrupted recovery. With a young child in tow, the work-life dynamic changes. Any pre-disposition to selfishness – a necessary characteristic in many elite sportspeople – has potential to shift to an entirely selfless existence. 

As Lynsey Sharp’s interview with AW commences, she laughs ironically when asked if her 16-month-old son Max is sleeping. “He’s so much fun to be around, but he’s just very high energy,” she says, relieved that her husband and fellow international athlete Andrew Butchart – they were married in December – has taken him out for a walk.

“I hear people [talking about their young children] who are like: ‘Yeah, they have a two-hour nap in the afternoon’. I’m like: ‘How?’ Imagine having two hours!”

Sharp may not have the free time she previously took for granted, but she’s now happy, healthy and enjoying a return to competition after injuries pre and post-pregnancy halted her progression.

Her first race back – a 1:28.91 600m victory at the Emirates Arena as part of the Glasgow Athletics Association Miler Meet in early January – represented a long-awaited comeback. In fact, it was her first race since the qualifying rounds of the World Athletics Championships in Doha in September 2019. 

Lynsey Sharp (Mark Shearman)

“It was just so nice to race,” reflects the Edinburgh AC athlete. “I’d trained there [at the Emirates] twice a week for however many weeks and I tried to think of it the same, but I was still so nervous, it didn’t feel like training at all. I’d waited so long to get back out there though, I wanted to make the most of it.”

It’s been a challenging yet invigorating few years for the former European 800m champion. In late 2019 she had surgery to remove pre-cancerous cells which were identified following a smear test. In 2020, in addition to the impact of Covid and moving back to Scotland, she was treated for a frustrating and enduring foot issue. Then, in May 2021, she announced she was pregnant. 

“Earlier on in my career, when I was younger, it would have never entered my head to have had a child while I was still competing,” explains Sharp. “It was more like that mentality changed as I got older, and after I met Andrew, and seeing other people do that more over the last couple of years.

“I was at a really difficult point. [Sponsors] Adidas had said they weren’t taking my option year and I’d also had a lot of injury problems. You then start to question, ‘Can my body do it?’ and that, coupled with thoughts of starting a family, we were just like, ‘If it happens, it happens, and whatever happens, that’s what’s meant to be.’”

» This is an excerpt from an interview that appeared in the February issue of AW, which you can read here