This is Stuart Weirs’ first piece for the week. 

Your editor was in Sopot as well. My son Adam had found our hotel and had us in a wellness spa. The food was great, the beds were soft, and wifi was superb, so I was happy. Walking around Sopot at night, Adam and I considered purchasing an apartment in Poland for our travel base. 

I remember Chanelle Price for Sopot and her amazing pacing in Monacao in 2015. 

Thanks, Stuart Weir, for another wonderful memory. 

2014 Memory

Sopot (Poland) 2014 was my first ever World Indoors. I have many memories of the occasion – including the worst hotel I have ever stayed in! More significant memories were seeing Shelly-Ann Frazer-Pryce winning the 60m  in her second-ever indoor competition – “I’m from Jamaica.  Why would I want to run indoors?” Richard Kilty won the men’s 60m, a career highlight for him.  A 20-year-old Bahamian lady I had never heard of, Shaunae Miller, took bronze in the 400m. In those days, there was a final night banquet. I sat with the medal-winning GB relay girls.

My outstanding memory of Sopot 2014 was the women’s 800m.  I had met Chanelle Price at an indoor event in Glasgow earlier in the year.  My hotel was poor, but it was right next to the USA team hotel, and I had popped in for a coffee with Chanelle.

Chanelle Price, London DL 2016, photo by Martin Bateman

Chanelle had an interesting career, seventh in the US Champs in 2007, aged 16.  Invited to compete at Pre that summer. She struggled to live up to the expectations over the next few years. Everything changed in 2014 when she was selected for the US team for the World Indoors in Sopot. She qualified for the final.  I remember talking to her before the race.  She told me that as she was a comfortable front-runner, she was planning to take the lead and that anyone who was going to beat her would have to get past her.  She did take the lead, and no one caught her!  “That’s just my personality”, she explained.  “I was going to leave it all out there so that at worst I could look back and think ‘OK you beat me but I left it all out there’.  I don’t like playing around with a slow first lap, my attitude is ‘we’re going to run today!’  I was able to look back with no regrets.  They did run, and Chanelle won!

Chanelle Price, pacing, photo by Getty Images for British Athletics

Looking back to that race, she says: “Sopot was a life changer.  I had been struggling for a few years to secure a contract but when I won the World Indoors, it changed my life I was able to sign with Nike.  I was able to focus solely on running instead of having to work multiple jobs to support my dream.  That race is still my favorite career memory. The Chanelle who showed up in Sopot was running happy and running free, and it made a difference.  I do no doubt that that change in mentality helped me become World Indoor champion”. Injuries and illness prevented her from building on that as much as she would have liked. A late career as a pacer then opened up for her.

In 2015, Genzebe Dibaba wanted to go for the World Record in the Monaco Diamond League. Chanelle’s agent persuaded the meet director that Chanelle would be the ideal pacemaker because, in her own words, “I’m a frontrunner and am therefore comfortable being at the front.  I’m pretty good at splits, and they needed a pretty fast 800 runner because Dibaba was looking for 2:03”.  Dibaba ran 3:50 and broke the record.  As a result, athletes and meet directors were saying “we want Chanelle to pace all the races”. She was often seen in that role.

Chanelle retired in 2011 with that World Indoor title as her career highlight.

Chanelle and her husband, Akeem Haynes, have just launched a podcast called “Run Your Race”