It’s a long road back, but Seren Bundy-Davies has taken the first steps towards recapturing the form that made her one of British athletics’ rising stars two years ago, as she tells Owen Morgan.
For an athlete who has competed at the Olympic Games and is a world championship medallist, finishing fifth in her heat at the British Championships wasn’t likely to go down as a career highlight.
But Welsh 400m runner Sarah Bundy-Davies’ performance at Birmingham last weekend generated mixed feelings for the athlete and is a sign she is on her way back having been injured for so long.
Bundy-Davies only ran competitively once last season after suffering a serious Achilles injury early on in the campaign. She was also forced to withdraw her nomination for April’s Commonwealth Games.
So just being back on the track at Birmingham and feeling fit and healthy was a bonus, even if Bundy-Davies is impatient to regain the kind of form which saw her clock her personal best of 51.26 in 2016 – almost four seconds faster than her time on Saturday.
The Trafford AC athlete said after the race: “I knew it was going to be a big challenge, there have been a lot of setbacks over the past year, but I’m finally injury free, so it’s kind of bittersweet.
“I’m glad to be back racing, but I’m obviously not racing at the standard I want to be.
“Unfortunately, I’m one of those athletes who has to put in a lot of work. I’m not very speed-based so when I lose my speed it takes quite a while to get back to where I want to be. But I’m confident I’m going to chip away at my time over the season.”
The 23-year-old is keen to put her injury problems behind her and return to the global stage which she graced so impressively before her setbacks.
Bundy-Davies was part of the British 4x400m relay team that won bronze at the 2015 World Championships.
She began 2015 by winning individual 400m bronze at the European Indoor Championships in Prague while also helping Britain claim 4x400m relay silver.
The 2014 Welsh 400m champion was part of the British 4x400m relay quartet that won the European outdoor title in 2016 while also earning selection for her maiden Olympic Games in Rio.
Now she wants reach those heights again. “My aim really is for the next Olympics, well the World’s next year, and then Olympics. After missing the whole of last year, I’m kind of looking long term now.
“I don’t know what my time was today, but it’s going to take a few races for me to even get back to low 53s and 52s. I know that just because I know myself.
“It was frustrating because it felt like I got out reasonably well but I could feel Zoey (Clark) on me straight away, and although I would feel people quite soon even at my best, I just really didn’t have anything in the home straight which is the best part of my race when I’m race fit.
“But it’s hard for me, I know it’s probably going to take a full year of racing and another winter before I’m back where I want to be, but that’s the reality of missing a few months of even walking or jogging last year.
“I wish I was one of those athletes who could bounce back and run 51, 52 seconds straight away, but I’m a realist and I know it’s going to take a lot of work.
“To be honest, I’m just grateful I’m fit and I’m racing and I’m just going to keep working hard to get back to where I need to be.
“It’s hard when you used to be so competitive against the same girls. I know where I want to be but it doesn’t really matter who I’m racing, I know it’s just about me and I need to get back.
“It might take a while, but I’m going to get there.”