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Athletics: Banchory Stonehaven’s Alisha Rees opens up on self-doubt she felt ahead of British Indoor Championships success

Alisha Rees, centre.
Alisha Rees, centre.

Banchory Stonehaven AC’s Great Britain international sprinter Alisha Rees has opened up about the mental anguish she experienced before getting to the starting line for last weekend’s British indoor championships in Birmingham.

The 22-year-old Loughborough-based sprinter went on to run the fastest race of her life when clocking 7.31sec to finish second in the 60m behind Croydon’s Cheyanne Evans-Gray, who won in 7.25.

Rees’ time shaved 0.01 off the Scottish record she set two years ago in Sheffield, but she missed the qualifying standard for this month’s world indoor championships in Serbia by the same margin.

However, the Torphins athlete came extremely close to giving the biggest domestic meeting of the indoor season a miss.

She said: “I’ve been struggling with the athletics lifestyle for a few weeks now. Giving pretty much my whole life to the sport seemed to catch up with me. It can be all-encompassing.

“A few days before the championships I had a chat with my coach as I was wondering if there was any point in going. My head wasn’t really in a good place.

“So, the fact I even went there was a victory. And to come away with a personal best time, a Scottish record and a medal made it a good day.

“It was a relief that it went well as I had been feeling rubbish. I’ve gone through phases about athletics and it was quite bad over the last couple of weeks.

“I’ve seen a sports psychologist and that has helped. I knew if I raced well at the weekend that would be good for me and I would be in a better mindset.

“And, if I hadn’t run well, I’d have taken a week off training and hopefully come back a bit refreshed.

“It’s important to recognise that you are allowed to feel like this, but sometimes it feels like no-one else is feeling this way because not enough people talk about it. But every athlete probably goes through this and feels like this at some point.

“I need to recognise that I have these spells and need to work out how to deal with them.

“Sometimes you get bad days. In training a couple of weeks ago, I just couldn’t lift a weight. It wasn’t a difficult weight, but mentally I just couldn’t do it.

“There’s a lot of downs, but you keep going because you know there’s an up as well. You don’t quit, because you can think about the days when it does go well, like last weekend.”

Alisha Rees.

Rees wasn’t perturbed by missing the qualifying standard for the world indoor championships by such a narrow margin.

She said: “It actually didn’t bother me at all, as I hadn’t actually thought about achieving it beforehand. It was never in my mind.”

Rees has enjoyed a considerable amount of success in recent years and has the potential to go much further in the sport.

She has won medals at the Commonwealth Youth Games and in European age group championships. and she has won four Scottish senior 200m titles. Last month, she captained the Scotland team at the DNA indoor international in Glasgow.

Rees has, however, also had some frustrating injury problems to contend with which have occasionally impacted on her performances.

Last summer, she sustained a serious hamstring tear when competing for GB in the 4x100m relay at the European under-23 championships in Estonia.

She graduated with a degree in sociology from Loughborough University last summer, but decided to remain in the Leicestershire town, where her coach Leon Baptiste is based and where she has access to top-class facilities.

She splits her time between training and working for a local charity which helps vulnerable girls in the Loughborough and Leicester communities make healthy life choices and feel valued.

Rees said: “I really enjoy the job and it gives me some balance away from athletics.

“I couldn’t be a full-time athlete. It’s important to have something else to think about.”

Roisin Harrison now the second-fastest 400m indoor runner in Aberdeen AAC history

Aberdeen AAC’s Roisin Harrison set a personal best 400m time of 53.12secs when finishing third in the Irish indoor championships at Abbotstown.

The Ireland international has now slashed a remarkable 3.32secs from her previous best indoor time since the start of the year.

She is now the second-fastest indoor 400m runner in the history of Aberdeen AAC, behind Olympic Games representative Zoey Clark, who holds the club record of 52.12, set four years ago.

The performance capped a short, but outstanding winter season for the 25-year-old, who earned her first Ireland international vest for seven years when representing her country at last month’s DNA meet in Glasgow.