Rio bound Alyson Dixon hoping it will be third time lucky at major championship

Sunderland Harriers' women's over-35 4x400m relay team, left to right: Colleen Compson, Vicky Younger, Anna Harris and Emma North.
Sunderland Harriers' women's over-35 4x400m relay team, left to right: Colleen Compson, Vicky Younger, Anna Harris and Emma North.

Alyson Dixon goes into the Olympic Marathon in Rio a week on Sunday with the experience of two major championships behind her.

The Sunderland Stroller competed in the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, Korea, and represented England in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014.

Dixon qualified for Brazil as the fastest British woman at the London Marathon in April to claim her place in Team GB.

The Silksworth athlete will have gained from her experiences and this should prove invaluable in Rio.

She admitted that she made mistakes in Glasgow where she had been in front of the race from the start of the 26.2 mile event, before dropping out with an Achilles tendon injury around the 25k marker.

She was heading a group of eight, which included the two favourites, Flomenena Daniel and Caroline Kilel before she was forced to surrender to the Kenyans at 15k.

From then on it was a struggle before withdrawing from the race.

Dixon said after qualifying for Rio: “It was awesome leading the Commonwealth Marathon with tremendous support from the crowd, then, bang, it was all gone in a minute.

“I made mistakes in Glasgow and hopefully the experiences should help me in Rio.”

Dixon’s preparations for her international debut in Daegu were hit by a foot injury and despite making it to the start, those troubles bothered her after just ten miles in the marathon.

The 32-year-old’s debut was a stop-start situation, with her ending down in 42nd place, recording 2.50.51. She finished more than 15 minutes off of her own best of 2.34.50.

Dixon added: “I was asked then if the niggle would stop me running – I said no.

“It proved my character and determination in showing that I did finish and I knew I could go on to better things.”

“I’ve loved the experience and the wearing of the GB vest, the pride is so immense.”

With two heartbreaking performances at major championships behind her, surely Dixon’s luck is due to change.

Despite the setbacks, she has been unwavering in her determination in gaining Olympic selection.

Now a performance which reflects her undoubted fortitude and ability will be a just reward for years of sheer endeavour.

One thing for certain is that Dixon, whose fastest marathon time stands at 2.29.30, will not be in better shape for the biggest race of her life.

She has been training up to 120 miles each week at altitude at Fort Romeau in the French Pyrenees, with the rest of the Team GB endurance squad. She will not come down to sea level until a few days before her race.

With the race starting at 9.30am, temperatures should not be too hot. It is mid-winter in Rio. The overall average temperature in August is 22°C.

The marathon will start and finish at Rio de Janeiro’s Sambadrome. The Marathon runners will be cheered on by 30,000 seated spectators.

This should make for a pulsating atmosphere both at the beginning of the race, and at the end.

There are three other North East athletes named in the British squad for the Olympics.

Morpeth Harrier Laura Weightman has been selected for the 1,500m. She competed in the final at London 2012.

Teesside-based Rabah Yousif will hope to repeat his 400m performance from last year’s World Championships, where he made the final.

Stockton’s Richard Kilty has made the 4x100m relay squad, but missed out on an individual sprinting spot.

Now in its fifth year, the Gallery Jewellers Cup Race will be staged by Sunderland Strollers at Silksworth Sports Complex tonight, where it first started in 2012.

It is a handicap race, by age, and it is between South Shields Harriers and the Strollers.

Sunderland Harriers women’s over-35 4x400m relay team of Colleen Compson, Vicky Younger, Anna Harris and Emma North, set a North East Masters’ record (4.53.1) at the final league meeting at Monkton.

Crook and District AC won the men’s and women’s leagues.

Sunderland Harrier Michael Wilson’s 4.09.16 time in finishing fifth in the England Athletics one mile championship at Bedford was a personal best.

Club-mate Sparrow Morley finished 14th also in a PB of 4.21.63.

The Darlington 10k is on Sunday from the Dolphin Centre at 10.30am. The course records are: Yared Hagos 30.06 (2011) and Kate Avery 33.05 (2014).