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In-form Lauren Bouchard hoping injury problems are thing of the past
LAUREN Bouchard is hoping her first British Universities title is proof that her injury problems are behind her.
The 21-year-old, who hails from Leigh but is studying at Loughborough University, stormed to victory in the 400m at the championships in Sheffield.
It was the latest fine run of the winter from 400m hurdles specialist Bouchard who is running faster than she has ever done in her life.
And after several years where her summer season has been ruined by injury, the Chelmsford AC athlete is keeping her fingers crossed that the form carries on into the summer.
“I know that if I can get to the outdoors season fit, I can run well,” said Bouchard who is targeting making the Great Britain squad for the European Under-23 Championships in Finland this summer.
“That has been my problem every year since I got to uni, but hopefully this year I can stay injury free.”
Bouchard is optimistic a coaching change she made last May will prove the difference.
She is now under the wing of Loughborough-based coach Emily Parker who has introduced slight changes to her training schedule in an effort to keep her on the track.
And that along with the work of physio Matt Taylor, from Response Physio, seems to be working.
“My problem was I kept damaging my Achilles,” said Bouchard. “It was one in the first year at Uni, then the other, and then back again.
“I just thought ‘something has got to change’, so I started to work with Emily. This winter has been my first serious block of racing with her and it’s gone really well.”
Bouchard said she has only made slight tweaks to her training. She is now hurdling and doing speed work all year round instead of just the summer, meaning her body doesn’t receive the sudden shock of resuming those tough-on-the-body sessions when the outdoor season begins. And if the training has the same affect on her hurdling as her 400m, then this summer promises to be her best since she went to the European Junior Championships in 2009.
Nearly all of her 400m races this year have been sub 56 seconds – a time she had not beaten before this season – and three times she has broken 55 seconds, including her winning time of 54.41s (just one-hundreth of a second outside her PB) at BUCs last weekend.
“I think in the back of my mind, I went into BUCs hoping to get into the medals and I was definitely hoping to win it,” said Bouchard.
“But I knew it was going to be tough, particularly against the girl who came second (Emma Pullen) who has run faster than me.
“I think the fact the semi-final was just two hours before the final suited me. I went out hard for the first 200m and just hung on.”
The confidence that has come with the victory, and the winter season as a whole, has made Bouchard determined to make the European Under-23 Championships.
She will need to run 57.25s to get the qualifying time. Her personal best is currently 58.72s, but that was set in 2009.
“I think the time is achieveable,” said Bouchard. “My 400m time when I set my hurdles PB was around 56s which is a difference of about two seconds and that’s generally the mark. So with my 400m time indoors I’m fairly optimistic I can run that fast.”
* A handful of Basildon AC athletes were in action for their universities in Sheffield.
Mark Dyble competed in a hotly contested 200m where he ran an indoor PB of 22.16 in his semi-final, but just missed out on a final place. Sade Bailey qualified for the high jump final with 1.63m, before placing tenth in the final with a clearance of 1.60m.
It was a frustrating weekend for Gemma Kersey, however, who went into the competition as one of the favourites for the women’s 3,000m – but was controversially disqualified in her heat for running off the track.