Leask hopes to make it fourth gold in Jersey
After claiming a gold medal in the Bermuda island games in the 800 metres, and a silver in the 400 metre competition, Emma Leask is hoping for a strong performance in Jersey.
Two medals and a first Scotland call-up in 2013 made it a fruitful summer campaign for Leask – and this year she expects it to be one of her best games yet.
She and fellow runner Michelle Sandison set Shetland records earlier this month as they gear up for the competition which starts this weekend.
Leask topped her previous best time in the 800 metres in Trafford with 2.08.26.
Meanwhile Whalsay’s Sandison set the new 10k road race record clocking 35 minutes 45 seconds, her fastest since 2002.
Sandison and Katie Bristow will be representing Shetland at both the 10,000 metres and 5,000 metres at the games.
Talented middle-distance runner Leask won gold in the 800 metres at the two island games prior to Bermuda, having her first taste of the games as a 15-year-old in 2009.
And she has twice been named Shetland Sportsperson of the Year following her track successes.
Despite battling with the heat in Bermuda, Leask says “it was a really nice place to be and run and everyone was friendly and really wanted to get involved.
“Jersey is quite a sporty island and I think everyone is going to be getting behind the games.
“It will be a really good atmosphere in Jersey,” she adds, and with such a big Shetland team leaving the isles, she says “it shows people are really looking forward to it.”
All the Shetland athletes will be staying in the same hotel, which Leask believes will be good for the team spirit and morale during the event.
She is hoping to retain her title in the 800 metres, though she admits: “There’s a lot of good athletes and a lot of girls I know of that are running really well at the moment. I think the standard has really improved over the years.”
The Lerwick runner will also be taking to the starting line in the 400 metres and will be pulling on the Shetland vest for the 4×400 metre relay.
Representing Shetland is almost more special than running for Scotland, she says. “You have people coming up to you in the street and saying ‘I saw you in the paper’ and say ‘you’re doing well’.”
Leask, who is studying a degree in physiotherapy at Robert Gordon University has been juggling her studies and placements as part of her course.
“I’ve always done sport. The whole of my life, I was doing some kind of sport,” she says.
Her interest in running was sparked from her friends at school. “They were all doing athletics, I came along and I really enjoyed it.” Shetland Athletics Club has also given her a solid grounding.
She adds: “In terms of going out for a run, it can just clear your head and sometimes when it’s raining and it’s horrible outside you dread going and once you’ve done it you feel much better.”
The same applies with the track training, she says. “You feel so much better after and it’s good to keep fit.”
The 400 metres is more a race where “you’ve just got to go out and run it,” though tactics come more into play in the 800 metres.
“It’s about trying to be in the right place in the right time and making your move when it’s going to have the best effect.”
Leask will be familiar with some of the Guernsey runners, having moved there for two years. She also knows other runners having competed against them previously.
Her mother will be heading down to see her race. And fourth time around, she still gets excited by the prospect of competing at the international event.
“It’s always in your mind, it’s always something that you look forward to and plan ahead to”.
“It’s such a good atmosphere.”