Norwich-born Amy Whitehead finishes ninth in women’s marathon at Commonwealth Games
- Credit: PA
Norwich-born Amy Whitehead finished ninth in the women's marathon at the Commonwealth Games yesterday.
Thousands of spectators braved the damp conditions to cheer on the athletes along the 26.2-mile course, which took in the city's squares, parks and bridges across the River Clyde.
The event started and finished at Glasgow Green, the oldest public park in Scotland, with Kenya's Flomena Cheyech Daniel taking the women's crown in 2:26:45 hours, followed home by compatriot Caroline Kilel and Australian Jess Trengove.
Scottish runner Susan Partridge was the best home-nations performer, finishing sixth in 2:32:18, although earlier in the race there looked to be a realistic chance of a British medal.
Aly Dixon led after 45 minutes but eventually tailed off and had to drop out with a calf problem, while her England team-mates Louise Damen and Whitehead both managed a top-10 finish.
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Whithead, whose maiden name is Waterlow, lived in Taverham until the age of 10 when her family moved to Cheshire. Now living in the Nottingham area, the 35-year-old finished in 2:35:06, which was 46 seconds slower than when she ran the London Marathon in April.
Australia's Michael Shelley took the men's crown, crossing the line to win the men's race in a personal-best time.
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It had looked for a while like Kenya's John Ekiru Kelai could become just the second man to retain the Commonwealth crown, yet he fell away as the lead switched hands and Shelley came through.
Whitehead admitted after the race that she had let her emotions get the better of her after meeting inspirational hero Katherine Grainger following her top-10 finish.
A former English and drama teacher, Whitehead suffered heartbreak when she missed out on selection for the London 2012 Olympics.
It left her questioning whether she should keep plugging away at the gruelling event – that was before a video on 2012 Olympic rowing champion Grainger and her own battles to finally claim double sculls gold at London convinced her otherwise.
And with Scotland-born Grainger in the crowd at the end, Whitehead admitted it had been a special moment.
'I really wanted that top-10 place and I'm pleased to have hopefully done people proud,' she said.
'I've put everything on this after I didn't make the London Olympics and decided to carry on through sheer determination.
'I've kept missing out on making teams recently and I questioned whether I should keep going and I got real motivation from her.
'I saw this video of Katherine before she went to London and I thought I had to carry on trying like she did. Then she was there at the finish and I couldn't believe it, I was like a little school girl, all giddy and she even signed my race number.
'My five-year-old daughter Holly was here watching. She has just got into running and she asked two weeks ago if she could run the first 2km of the race with me.
'I did some school visits and I kept thinking of all the kids telling me to run my heart out.'
With a strong performance on her Commonwealth Games debut, thoughts were already turning to the future for the former Ghost Hill Infant School pupil.
And while not ruling out trying to make the Great Britain team for Rio 2016, she admitted she may ply her trade in the shorter distance.
'I would like to concentrate on the half-marathon,' she added. 'My physio is not too keen on me doing a spring marathon next year because I had hernia surgery last September.
'But this has certainly given me a taste and I would perhaps like to go for Rio. I will evaluate with my coach before I decide.'
• Commonwealth Games England (CGE) leads and manages the participation of the Team England at the Commonwealth Games and Commonwealth Youth Games. We work with sports, Sponsors and Sport England to support the development of athletes and their sports, and to achieve success at Games-time.