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Lee helps launch the new Visit Scotland Centre in Glasgow and joins the debate on the media's coverage of women in sport! MORE

October 2013

Ethan McConnell Bonthron was born on 31st Oct at 1.30pm weighing 7lb12.  We left hosptal a couple of days later and we are pleased to be home and getting settled into the new life.  Craig and I are delighted to have our little Halloween Baby in our life, he is a wonderful addition to our family!  As you can see from the picture below, he was so excited to be coming home!  We are hoping the sleep continues…..

March 2013

It’s been a busy and hard start to the year, this early part of the year is always one of my toughest blocks in my training programme and this year has been no different.  I have been lucky to compete twice at the new Emirates Indoor arena, which got me a weekend off training but no more.

My first race at the new arena was the Glasgow International match.   I competed for the Commonwealth Select team and also had the privilege of being team captain.  This was the first big televised athletics meeting to be held at the Emirates and my first indoor appearance in Glasgow since 2006.  It was great to be able to compete in front of such a wonderful and supportive home crowd.

My second outing was again at the Emirates competing in the Scottish Indoor Championships.  This is the first time I have ever competed in these Championships and I was happy to win.

My off track commitments have been interesting over the last few months. A few weeks ago I made an appearance on Scotland Tonight to debate the issue of Scottish women in sport.  A Daily Record journalist had written an article arguing that the Scottish public were unable to name any female Scottish sports stars.  His argument mostly seemed to be based on the fact that his sports desk colleagues couldn’t name any.  This led to his controversial claim that any government backed financial support given to female sport should be reduced or withdrawn.  I argued that just because his sports desk colleagues couldn’t name any doesn’t mean the rest of the country have no knowledge or respect for what our female sportswomen have achieved.  Part of the problem – it seems to me – is the lack of coverage given to female sports by the general media that he is a part of.  However, it seems to be an on going topic of debate that will hopefully lead to our sportswomen receiving more media coverage of their amazing achievements.

Last month, I also had the honour of opening the Visit Scotland Centre in Glasgow, which will be a focal point of travel advice leading up to and during the Commonwealth games in 2014.  It was great fun to be part of the opening ceremony.

I have also been continuing with my regular spot on the BBC Radio Scotland’s Sport Nation.  This is a great radio show that discusses current sports topics across all sports – except football.   My next slot is on 30th March 11am-12pm.  If you’re a sports fan, then tune in if you haven’t already.   It really is a great show with lots of interesting sports subjects discussed each week.

Off the track the new house I bought with my husband has been keeping me busy, it probably wasn’t the most sensible of purchases given the massive amount of renovating we have to do before we can move in.  This little project looks set to keep me busy for the next year!

January 2013

Well 2012 has been quite a year on and off the track and I’m sad that’s its over.

2012 was an incredible year for British sport and whilst I was delighted to have been part of it, I was not completely satisfied with my own performances.  My season didn’t go to plan.  I really hoped to run quicker and in particular, win a medal in the 4x400m relay at the Olympics.  It wasn’t to be.

Since London, a day has not gone by without somebody asking me when I’m going to retire.  Eventually, I lashed out on Twitter stating that I was not retiring and was getting fed up with people constantly asking!  I love athletics and I love to compete and as long as I am passionate about the sport and my mind and body allows me, I will continue.

I think that perhaps there has been such a build up for the last four years to London, that people are unsure what happens next to all the athletes.  Well there is life after London and athletes quickly get back into their individual routines and training programmes.  We quickly start to focus on the next year and the next event.  For GB athletes, 2013 is about the European Indoor Championships in March and the World Outdoor Championships in August.

My next big race is at home in Glasgow on the 26th Jan at the new indoor arena.  I’m really excited about racing in my home town, especially as it is the first year that the fantastic new Emirates Arena will be used for this annual indoor British International Match!  I have the great honour of Captaining the Commonwealth Team at the event, where I plan to run in the 200m event.  I plan to compete at a few more indoor events this season but do not intend to do a full indoor season.  As ever, my key focus is outdoors, where I will be aiming to compete at the World Championships in Moscow.

2012 has also been an amazing year off the track.  In November, I married Craig Bonthron and it was certainly a day I will always remember!  The day was fantastic from start to finish and was even more special and fun than I could have imagined.  Two days later we travelled to South Africa on honeymoon.  First stop Stellenbosch to sample the delights of the wine region and there certainly were many delights! Second stop Cape Town, a great city with so much to see and do.… and so many good restaurants to eat in!  Last stop Shamwari Game Reserve, an incredible place to see the big five and many more majestic animals in their natural habitat.  All in all, it was easily the best November I’ve ever had!

If all that wasn’t enough, in December Craig and I bought our first house together.  And never one to take the easy option, we bought a renovation project, which our architect informs us, might not be finished until next late 2013!!! What have I done!?

Anyway, as I said earlier 2012 has been a very special and exciting year and 2013 has a lot to live up to.

I hope 2013 is a wonderful year for everyone.

Lee McConnell02

September 2012

The London 2012 Olympics were spectacular and an absolute privilege to have been a part of.  I think that from the Opening Ceremony through to the Closing Ceremony, London and Britain managed to engage the whole country and create a huge amount of pride throughout it.

My own experience of the games was a mix of emotions.  Standing in the stadium being introduced to the crowd is something that I will remember for the rest of my life and be will a highlight of my career, but my individual result was a disappointment.  I had much higher expectations of myself.

This year hasn’t been my strongest season.  For some reason – that I am yet to figure out – I have not been able to finish my last 100m as strongly as I normally would.  This is something that I will need to carefully consider and rectify.

Leading into the Games, I thought that my last 100m was improving relative to earlier in the season. I had put together a few very good training weeks, particularly in the final week at the UKA training camp in Portugal.  I ran a PB for 300m less than a week before my race and within the same session ran my 2nd quickest 200m ever.  So my speed was great and doing these two runs back to back should indicate that my strength was good.  So off the back of this and some other very good sessions, I was confident that I was ready to run fast.

The heats went well and I finished in an automatic qualifying position feeling comfortable with the run.  In the semi-final, I was drawn in the inside lane but I wasn’t worried about this and didn’t think it would make much difference.  Looking back I think it did make the race more challenging.  It forced me to run a little harder and to go through 200m a bit faster than I would have liked because I didn’t want to become detached from the other competitors in the middle lanes.  The problem was the girls in my race, in particular the Russian, went off at a crazy pace. As an experienced athlete I should have known better and stuck to my own race pace and not have been influenced by the other girls.  The problem was although my training had been good leading into the games and helped with my confidence, I still lacked a good race that season to really give me the confidence and self belief that I needed to execute the race my way.  The result was a disappointing performance.

Due to being part of the 4x400m relay squad I didn’t have much time to dwell on individual performance. I gave myself a day to get over the frustration and refocus for the relay.  I had high hopes for the relay, we finished 4th in the World Championships last year and I have 2 bronze medals from the previous World Championships so a medal was definitely a realistic goal.

Great Britain has a very good relay team with lots of good 400m girls desperate to run in the team.  This makes the selection process very competitive and stressful.  We are never told who is in the team or what the running order will be until the day before the race, so it’s quite nerve racking wondering whether you are in the team or not.  We had a relay squad of 8 and I knew only 4 or 5 girls would get to run.

Even although I expected to be in the team, I was still very relieved to be told at the meeting that I would be running.  However, we were also told at the meeting before the heat that one of us would be coming out of the final team for Perri Shakes-Drayton, so this added some extra pressure.

We ran well in the heats with Shana Cox on first leg followed by myself, Eilidh Child and then Christine Ohuruogu.   We progressed to the final in an automatic qualifying position and were pleased to to be in the final, which is what we expected.  Before the final we had to go through the process of finding out who would be dropped from the final team.   As most of us were keen to know who would be running, we asked for the team meeting to be that night, rather than waiting till the next morning.  I was delighted to find out that I would be running and was kept on the second leg.

The final was very exciting and the stadium was again totally packed with the crowd making more noise than ever! From the second we entered the stadium the crowed were shouting encouragement and cheering.  Just as we were about to be introduced to the crowd the camera paned onto our lane and the stadium erupted, I have never heard anything so loud in my entire life.  The stadium announcer introduced us one at a time but the crowd was cheering so loudly that we couldn’t even hear our name being read out…..Crazy!

The race didn’t start well for us and when I got the baton we were in 8th place.  I managed to get us back up to 5th before handing over to Perri.  Perri had a good run and we remained in 5th before passing to Christine on the last leg.  Unfortunately Christine was unable to close the gap, so we remained – with great disappointment – in 5th place.

Overall though I thought London and Britain did a fantastic job hosting the games.  So many people were needed to make the Games work from athletes to officials to volunteers and even armed forces.  I think everyone made these games very special for the athletes and the whole of the country.

Lee McConnell Olympic Team

July 2012 Part 2

So the London Olympics have finally started but I’m not yet in the country. I’m currently in Portugal at a UK Athletics training camp and watching the Games on the TV like millions of other people around the world. It’s a little strange watching the London Olympics from Portugal and watching all my fellow Brits compete and finish when I haven’t even arrived!

On Friday night, instead of being in the Olympic Stadium for the Opening Ceremony, we watched it on a big screen here at the training camp. Most of us were in bed before the end but I think most of us still stayed awake for the lighting of the cauldron. A lot of people have asked me via twitter if I was upset not to be there, but to be completely honest, the answer was no. Of course entering the stadium in front of a home crowd would have been an amazing experience but the rest standing around for hours is not much fun for an athlete, and spending hours outside not able to see the great show in the stadium is also frustrating. I was happier watching it on TV with everyone else.

I thought we did an amazing job of the Opening Ceremony and it made me very proud to be British. My favourite bit was seeing the Olympic rings coming together overhead, but also the Queen and James Bond sketch and Rowan Atkinson were hilarious and probably set the opening ceremony apart from any previous one. The Olympic Cauldron was also spectacular, a really beautiful sculpture, I can’t wait to see it in the stadium.

The Portugal Camp is a great place to be for final preparations, both from an individual and team point of view.  My final sessions have gone well so far and I’ll finally be arriving in London on August 1st with my first race on August 3rd.  I can’t wait!

 July 2012 Part 1

Only 24 days until I race at the London Olympics!!

Nearly 7  years ago, London was announced as the host city for the 2012 Olympic Games.  I can’t believe that it is now its only 24 days away and that I actually have the opportunity to race in the biggest sporting event in the world…..ON HOME SOIL!!

It’s been a busy start to the season with a lot of racing and a lot of travel around Europe.  If I’m completely honest, I wasn’t happy my start to the season.  I didn’t run as fast as I had anticipated or hoped.  This was due to a combination of poor pace judgement by myself and very poor weather. Every race meeting seemed to be cold, wet or windy or a combination of all three!

I was also disappointed to finish 3rd in the Olympic Trials but 4 days later went on to make the final of the European Championships, where I finished 5th.  I was relieved and very excited when – 2 days later – I was named in Team GB for the London Olympics.  I was selected for the individual 400m and 4x400m relay.  Whilst I have gradually improved my time this season to a respectable sub 52 seconds over the last 2 months, I still feel that I have the ability to run much faster and will be aiming to deliver the best performances of my career in less that 4 weeks time.

I was obviously delighted and very excited to be selected for Team GB, but at the same time as my dream was being realised, many of my friends were having that same dream shattered.  Athletes train extremely hard and adapt their lives to focus on one thing and that one thing is the Olympics.  It is heart breaking for those who don’t make it and the pain of missing out must be even more extreme when it is a home games.  My heart goes out to all of those athletes who made that sacrifice and haven’t been selected.

I am now totally focussed on doing everything I can to arrive in London in the best possible condition.  I will be training hard and maybe racing one more time before the individual 400m Olympic heats on  August 3rd.  On July 21st I will be heading to Loughborough to collect my Olympic Kit and then heading out to Portugal with the UK Athletics team for some warm weather training,

London will be my 3rd Olympics and I can’t wait!

March 2012

What a busy and exciting start to 2012 I’ve had.  As always I’ve been training hard on the track and in the gym, I’ve had a couple of set backs with a torn calf and tonsillitis but I got over both quickly so I was OK with that.

Off the track has also been busy with appearances in Aberdeen, Ayrshire, Edinburgh and my acting debut for Cadbury taking place in Glasgow.

Yes I said acting debut, I had fun taking part in the final advert for the Cadbury Keep Team GB Pumped Campaign.  The advert features the public singing to ‘Eye of the Tiger’ and helping me stay motivated to train hard in the lead up to London 2012.   It was a great experience making the advert, I had no idea how many people it takes to make an advert or how long……especially when I’m only in it for a few seconds!!  Although thinking about it, I should maybe have realised as I train for hours to run for 50sec!

On a more personal level the wedding plans are going well, we finally booked a band!

December 2011

So it’s been a busy start to my winter season.  Training has been going well, thankfully not too much snow like last year so I’ve been able to train outside rather going indoors.  Winter is the hardest part of my year, it’s where most of the hard sessions happen and living in Scotland they mainly happen in the cold, wet and wind.

Outside of my training life has also been hectic with a lot of commitments off the track, most of which have been very worthwhile.  I launched Bank of Scotland’s National Sports week at Muirhouse Primary school.  The launch went well with the kids at Muirhouse asking me lots of great questions, as did the other 55 schools around Scotland who were watching and participating through GLOW, the schools Intranet system.

I also had a trip to Aberdeen to speak at the John Clark Motor Groups Ladies Lunch, which was to raise funds for Maggie’s Cancer Care, a charity very close to my heart.

It’s nearly time for Christmas and even although I don’t get any time off training I’m still very excited!

Wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

  

 

 October 2011

Overall, 2011 was a good season for me.  I ran my quickest 400 metres in 8 years (clocking 51.01) and I was a semi finalist at the World Championships in Daegu, where I also had a strong relay leg as part of the GB  4x400m relay team.  Unfortunately we didn’t manage to pick up a medal, ultimately finishing 4th, , but it was a solid team performance.

After the World Championships, I had planned to keep racing with the aim to dip under 51sec and maybe register a new PB.  Unfortunately an injury that I picked up at the World Championships put a stop to that plan.  Instead I had to rehab and was forced to take a longer break than originally intended.

On the plus side, I now feel fully recuperated and I think that my body has really benefited from the slightly longer break.

My break was exciting with a couple of highlights.  Definitely the best moment was getting engaged whilst on holiday with my boyfriend in New York.  Another highlight was helping Pentland Land Rover launch the new Range Rover Evoque at Harvey Nicholas in Edinburgh.  I became a very proud Ambassador for Pentland Land Rover and I love driving around in my beautiful new Evoque.

I’ve been back training now for the last 2 weeks and this is the phase of year when all the real hard work and pain begins.  For an athlete, the winter months are when the heavy training is done but with the Olympics in London next year, I have more than enough motivation to fuel me on.