Great Britain’s Niamh Emerson has targeted a global breakthrough – despite injury and the coronavirus pandemic leaving her without a major competition for almost two years.
The world Under-20 heptathlon champion is aiming to build on her silver at the European Indoor Championships and Commonwealth Games bronze medal.
Emerson missed last year’s World Championships after partially tearing her patella tendon at the Hypo-Meeting in Gotzis last May, which remains her last meet.
She has recovered but the coronavirus crisis has decimated the athletics calendar, postponing the Olympics and World Indoors until next year while the European Championships in Paris were cancelled.
The World Indoors is now scheduled for March 2021 in Nanjing – 22 months after Emerson suffered her injury – and it is now a concrete goal.
“I want to go to World Indoors, pick up a medal and then go to the Olympics and place as high as possible,” Emerson, who won European Indoor silver behind Katarina Johnson-Thomson last year, told the PA news agency.
“The aim for 2021 is to medal in Nanjing, I really like pentathlons and hopefully I can really build on my European silver, but also go to the Olympics, place as high as I can and enjoy it.
“I haven’t competed in so long, it’s bizarre and I’ve got used to not competing but at the same time I’ve just got on with things.
Double Trouble 👭@JohnsonThompson and @niamhemerson warmed our hearts as they congratulated each other on achieving Gold and Silver in the heptathlon at the European Indoor Championships 🥇🥈 pic.twitter.com/PP2dxeAJyZ
— Müller Anniversary Games (@London_DL) December 30, 2019
“It is a shame, hopefully there’ll be some competitions at the end of the year and I can do some events but I don’t think a heptathlon will happen this year.”
The Tokyo Olympics was postponed for 12 months in March but Emerson is one who can benefit from the delay.
Rather than playing catch-up following her injury she can now plan for the rescheduled Games.
“It is upsetting but I couldn’t be more grateful for the time,” said the Loughborough University student.
“I spent the whole year rehabbing, I had to, and I don’t doubt I would have been in the best shape possible but I was playing catch-up from the start.
“I wasn’t training for the Olympics, I was training to be able to compete. Now it’s a bit more realistic, I’m training to perform now. I have a far better opportunity to be in really good shape.
“I wouldn’t have been in the same shape this year. I feel really hopeful for next year.”
The 21-year-old has been training on a golf course next to her home in Derbyshire and a public track as she tries to remain fit during the lockdown.
Emerson has also been meditating using app Headspace to ensure she maintains her focus.
— BritAthletics (@BritAthletics) April 7, 2020
“I’ve got a home gym, a bike and lots of hills where I live. We’re also next to a golf course as well and the grass is really well maintained so I’ve done a lot of tempo drills,” said Emerson, a Red Bull athlete.
“Trying to do the gym in your garden, it’s just weird, and Headspace has been really useful keeping you focused on elite sport.
“It’s a meditation app, it’s so useful. I get distracted quite easily so it helps me focus on one thing.
“You sit there for a minute or 10 minutes and it goes through breathing exercises and allows you to block things out.”
– You can find out more information on how Niamh is training during lockdown when she takes over the Red Bull UK Instagram channel this Friday.