Meghan Beesley will invoke the spirit of Forrest Gump this weekend as she looks to play her part in a clean sweep of British medals at the European Under 23 Championships in Kaunas.
Along with Perri Shakes-Drayton and Eilidh Child, the continent’s top two 400m hurdlers, the 2008 World Junior bronze medal winner is one of three Britons in with a chance of a podium finish at the event which starts in Lithuania today.
Beesley is also one of five Birchfield athletes to travel to the former Soviet republic and begins her campaign to qualify for Saturday’s final with her heat this afternoon.
If she makes it through, there is a semi final on Friday with the showpiece the following evening.
But after an inconsistent season in which she has performed reasonably well in the 400m flat, she is still some way short of her best, half a second in fact, in her specialist event.
However she proved in coming through the rounds to snatch an unlikely medal in Bydgoszoz 12 months ago and setting two personal bests in the process, that the greater the demands, the better she responds.
“I’m like Forrest. The more I run the better I get,” Beesley says. “I tend to improve every day. That’s what happened at the World Juniors last year.
“I was ranked15th going in and ran rubbish in the heat but did a PB in the semi so when I went into the final I knew anything was possible.”
Indeed it was. Beesley stuck to her race-plan and shocked the rest of the field to nip in behind winner Takecia Jameson and runner up Janeil Bellille. She was only a few paces from silver.
The 19-year-old will have to upset the form book to repeat that performance over the next few days, although as one of the younger competitors in the field she knows she will have another crack at the European Under 23 title in 2011.
“I’ll judge myself at this level in two years. This season has just been about getting to the Europeans and hopefully setting a PB.
“I did it around this time last year and feel as though I could this time too.
“The speed is there as shown in my flat times in which I set an outdoor PB a couple of weeks ago.”
But the student from Loughborough University, where she trains with Irish champion Michelle Carey and rising British 400m star and former national champion Martyn Rooney, knows she will have to run a couple of seconds faster than ever before to keep up with Shakes-Drayton and Child.
“It’s probably going to take 55 seconds to medal so I would not be overly disappointed if I didn’t manage it.
“As long as I run well and do myself justice, I’ll be happy.”
Also looking to do that are fellow Harriers Eden Francis in the discus and shot, Jessica Leach in the high jump, Brett Morse in the discus and Luke Lennon-Ford in the 4x400m relay team.
Olympic 400 metres champion Chrissy Ohuruogu will miss the AF Golden League meeting in Paris tomorrow night as a precautionary measure because of a tight hamstring.