Sharlene Mawdsley: ‘A lot of people wouldn’t have been disqualified for what I did’

In a successful Indoor World Championships for Ireland, it was quite the dramatic few days for Sharlene Mawdsley.

The Tipperary athlete looked like she had qualified for the final of the 400 metres with an impressive display in the semi-final.

However, moments later, Mawdsley was controversially disqualified for obstruction in the race, and despite an appeal, her final hopes were taken away from her.

While she admitted she thought there was a possibility of action being taken after the race, the 25-year-old felt she was quite hard done by.

“I kind of thought ‘maybe’. Because the race was quite messy, of course there is argy-bargy all the time, but at the break I felt I was quite hard done by. The girl pushed me back, so I had to sit in on the break. A lot of people wouldn’t have been disqualified for what I did, but unfortunately, that’s just how it rolls.

“Initially the appeal went in, and I was fine. I was thinking it was grand, we’re going to counter appeal it. I knew I deserved to be there. Then I found out I really was disqualified, and it was different emotions then. I was really upset.

“I had my coach there, thankfully. Everyone was as disappointed for me as I was for myself. The night was hard, I didn’t get much sleep. I was playing it out over and over in my head, what if I had waited like I did in the heat?

“I didn’t want to think I was the only person suffering from a simple mistake, but it was hard to watch other races. I didn’t watch too many of them. I remember we were doing an interview and watching the men’s 800m, and I was like,” this is crazy, I didn’t do anything like that.

“In the end, the decision was made, and I just had to get on with it.”

It was not Mawdsley’s first time bouncing back from disappointment, as she quickly had to prepare herself for the 4×400 metre relays.

With support from her team, she helped Ireland get to the final, where they achieved a fifth place finish. Mawdsley ran the second-fastest split, with a time of 50.47.

In a team that contains Sophie Becker, Phil Healy, Sophie Harrison, and Rhasidat Adeleke to come back into the picture, Olympic qualification, and success in Paris could be on the horizon.

“I met the girls for relay training on the Saturday, and it was actually fine. They were all disappointed for me, and we knew collectively we could pull something special off once we all pulled together.

“We have World Relays first, but even going to Europeans, we should really be challenging for a medal, it shouldn’t just be that we’re hoping to get into the final. We should be challenging for a medal with Rhasidat on board.

“All of the girls have stepped on. I have, everyone has stepped up to a new level. That’s what is really important and will help us once we have Rhasidat in the mix, to be able to challenge. It’s difficult to win a medal when you only have one good girl, but now we have four good girls”

After missing out on qualification for Tokyo, Mawdsley knows how easily her dreams can disappear in the final moments.

Having been overlooked for Cliodhna Manning, who got the better of her  in the nationals that year, she knows to take nothing for granted.

With a change in mentality and growth in performances on the track for all to see, Mawdsley is now enjoying the build-up to Paris, in what should be an exciting few months ahead.

“This year, I feel quite blessed that there’s other championships. We have the World Relays, and it’s funny because I’m like, ‘Oh I’m going to the Bahamas.’ I haven’t officially been told but right now, I’m thinking that I’m in good shape and going to the Bahamas.

“The last time, when I was told I was going to World Relays in the year of Tokyo, I was thinking that this is amazing, but we also have European championships in June and I’ve already got the auto qualification for that.

“That takes a lot of pressure off thinking solely of Paris. I’m really excited once the season gets going because I’m so adamant that it’s one race at a time and just running as fast as I can.

“I was so stressed going into every race in the year of Tokyo. I had this huge wave of pressure on me and now I’m actually really excited. I think I deserve to be in these races. Before, I would have had a little bit of impostor syndrome where you feel that you don’t deserve to be here. It is exciting, but you can’t get too ahead of yourself.”


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