Grant Plenderleith excels for Team GB at Worlds - but won’t be on Commonwealth Games plane to Australia

Muller Indoor GP & Club Connect Relays Feb 25th, 2018 (C)Bobby Gavin
Muller Indoor GP & Club Connect Relays Feb 25th, 2018 (C)Bobby Gavin

One door closed on Grant Plenderleith, shutting him out of the Commonwealth Games Team Scotland through injury and an early selection process.

Another opened - selection for the Team GB World Championship team – and he revelled at Birmingham running even more personal bests as part of the national team. And the secret? Going back to basics.

Plenderleith has run in the Commonwealth Games in 2014. Picture Michael Gillen.

Plenderleith has run in the Commonwealth Games in 2014. Picture Michael Gillen.

Doubts had crept into the mind of the Falkirk Victoria Harrier, considerations of returning to football and leaving the track behind. But in a whirlwind three weeks he’s rediscovered his form, mixed it with the best on the world stage – and dedicated even more to his athletic ambitions.

“I’m a prime example to keep going and not giving up. You never know,” he told The Falkirk Herald. “It can change so quickly in this sport. Three weeks ago I’d never have predicted where I’ve been this past fortnight.

“Medalling at the British championships – we went down purely just to run because the hotels were already booked. We didn’t realise it was a qualifier for the Worlds, then I was invited to the IAAF meet in Glasgow and in the squad and running a World Championships final for Team GB and getting two runs.

“Everything turned upside down in two weeks. At one stage I was wondering what condition I was going to be in to race because I hadn’t done much speed work over the winter, and another point I was questioning was if I was in any condition to run indoors at all, or should I just wait until the outdoors?

Muller Indoor GP & Club Connect Relays Feb 25th, 2018 (C)Bobby Gavin

Muller Indoor GP & Club Connect Relays Feb 25th, 2018 (C)Bobby Gavin

“But I was obviously in some shape that had its merits I suppose.”

Plenderleith though had even been mulling over a return to football after frustrations on the track.

“I was reflecting on things a little, and the last couple of seasons. There wasn’t much going wrong but maybe I was overcomplicating things and too many aspects of what I was doing.

“Myself and David Lothian, my coach, just stripped it back to the basics from when I first got into running. Davie logs everything and we went back to the speed endurance training I was doing in 2013-14 season and the same weight programme and focussed on my diet and got myself back to a weight I wanted to be at and I was comfortable running at.

Grant grew up in Falkirk and attended St Margaret's Primary in Polmont before becoming a member of the local athletics club. Pic by Jonathan Faulds.

Grant grew up in Falkirk and attended St Margaret's Primary in Polmont before becoming a member of the local athletics club. Pic by Jonathan Faulds.

“There were moments where I thought about going back to football. I was injured and maybe had too much time to think and over-analyse. Athletics – it’s a lonesome sport. You’re alone on the track. You and your coach. there’s not many teammates like football you can bounce off.

“But with me it all seemed to click into place over a very short time and came together for me and I got my mojo back in a way.

“I’d have been silly to walk away and miss this opportunity.”

That revitalised belief has been propelled by his achievements. Personal best runs and a British championship bronze, then a place in Team GB at the weekend. Grant ran the final leg of the 4x400m heat, a comfortable second behind the USA before running the second leg in Sunday’s final where GB finished sixth.

Now he’s changed his mind on warm weather training and is tightening his belt to do so, even with a wedding on the horizon next year. And all because of his whirlwind success and ‘back to basics’ re-discovery.

“I got an indoor PB and so close to dipping under the 47 indoors which would have been fantastic. My split was 46.08 and 45.78 so I’ve proven that to myself.

“It isn’t anything official but I know now that I can run that fast and my body is capable. It’s going to be an exciting outdoor season to build on that further.

“I hadn’t planned any warm weather training just for financial reasons – I’m purely self-funded and have a wedding coming up next April, but I’ve decided to do it after these last few weeks. I’ll just need to save a wee bit harder.”

However, despite this recent success, and clearly being one of Scotland and Britain’s form athletes – Grant won’t be on the plane to Gold Coast in three weeks for a follow-up to his Commonwealth Games appearance in 2014.

“The team was announced so early and there was no way I’d have reached the standards with my injury. There was a hope I could make it but the injury put it on hold.

“I have friends going and I’ll be supporting the whole Team Scotland.

“It would have been brilliant to represent Scotland there, but I am evidence that one opportunity can pass you by another one can come along quickly and you have to be ready. It wasn’t the Commonwealths, instead, it was the Worlds.

“It was a good experience. Surreal and different to competitions I’ve been to before – except the Commonwealths. We were in the same hotel as some of the elite athletes which made you really feel like you deserved to be there.

“It was the fourth ever time by a GB quartlet and the fastest by GB four on British soil and there’s been some strong teams over the years.

“There were national records being broken by teams right across the final, and we got sixth in a very tough race.

“We can’t really grumble, we did our job.”

As a self-funded athlete, Grant is available for sponsorship and partnership. Contact him via Falkirk Victoria Harriers, or on Twitter @grant1503 .