At about the time Jessica Ennis was making her initial breakthrough, another Sheffield athlete was firmly in the limelight.
Becky Lyne had taken bronze in the 800m at the 2006 European Championships in Gothenburg and had earlier leapt to third place in the UK all-time rankings with a time of 1 min 58.2 secs in the British Grand Prix in Gateshead to add to the WAAA title.
As a result, she was awarded the prestigious Dame Marea Hartman Award for the Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year.
Unfortunately, the glory season was followed by a succession of injury-ravaged years which have taken their toll on the Hallamshire Harrier.
Now, however, the tide may finally be turning for the city’s ‘forgotten athlete.’
A UKA training trip to Kenya as part of George Gandy’s training group in Loughborough, was, understandably, met with some trepidation.
Thankfully, her fears were unfounded. Easing her way back after an Achilles operation last August, Becky’s body stood up to the rigours of the altitude training programme - in the Rift Valley at 2300m - with former world 800m champion, Janeth Jepkosgei.
A combination of the warmer weather, the altitude and excellent training partners helped to get her back training consistently - something that has eluded her for the last five years.
The friendly nature of the Kenyan people and the country’s wild, natural beauty also played a key part in helping her rediscover her passion for the sport, so much so that by the end of the trip she was doing everything she could to stay out there!
“We thought it would be a good idea to ease back into things and it was,” said Becky. “It was just the kick-start that I needed. I was a little nervous because I hadn’t done much running before I went out but the warm weather was great and the altitude means you’re not tempted to run as fast. Perhaps the reduced gravity might have had a bit of an impact too.
“We woke up at 6am, with the first training run of the day at 7am and the second session at 4pm.
“It was a really enjoyable experience. I couldn’t have been in a more welcoming environment, the Kenyans were so friendly. They enjoy running; it’s part of their basic lifestyle and made me understand why we do run.”
Becky was also able to indulge herself in her other big passion - cooking. Most of her downtime was spent in the communal kitchen where she discovered the maize dish of ugali, a staple in Kenyan diets. Now her colleagues at her training base at Loughborough University are reaping the rewards with ugali bars!
Cooking apart, Becky is now looking to put a succession of injuries and the heartache behind her and return to the sort of form she showed in 2006.
A couple of weeks ago she returned to action in a low-key mile road race in Sunderland where she finished fifth. It’s a start and from here Becky hopes to take part in a few track races with the UK Trials and Championships in Birmingham at the end of the month, very much in mind.
From training out in Kenya, Becky become involved in charity work for shoe4Africa.org: a hands-on organisation that promotes sports, health, education, peace, women’s rights and AIDS awareness. They’re currently in the process of fundraising to build the first children’s hospital in sub-Saharan Africa. She is now engaged as an ambassador and her first awareness-raising event took place at King Edward V11’s Lower School when six Primary Schools joined with KES students to take part in a multi-sports afternoon organised by Sheffield Academy of Young Leaders in Sport.
“It was an excellent day and a perfect illustration of what happens when young people come together through sport to think about other children across the world (in Kenya 80% of children die without ever seeing a healthcare worker),” said Becky.
Shoe4Africa was founded by Sheffield-born Toby Tanser.