JUST a week after the hardest marathon of her life, Paralympic silver medalist Shelly Woods will take to the roads again on Sunday.
In an amazing show of resilience, typical of her winning mentality, the Fylde wheelchair athlete will compete in Sunday’s Great North Run in South Shields.
Back home in St Annes, Woods told The Gazette: “I felt like I had been hit by a bus after the marathon. I was so tired but I want to do the Great North Run because it has always been one of my favourite events.
“I am fit and there is no pressure on me, so I have decided to go for it.”
Shelly won the admiration of the country for her valiant exploits on Sunday, shrugging off the anticlimax of missing out on track medals in the 800, 1,500 and 5,000m.
But it all came right over the streets of the capital, where the 26-year-old was roared on and inspired by the enthusiastic crowd who lining the route.
Shelly said: “It was incredible the way the whole country got behind us. To hear 80,000 people in the athletics stadium cheering was something I have never experienced before and will probably never experience again. The reaction was just the same in the marathon.
“I raced the Beijing Paralympics and there was nothing like that number. In fact, there seemed to be no-one there at all at times. But it was so different in London – people were four or five deep all the way round and they kept shouting, ‘Come on Shelly’, and that spurred me on. It is something I will remember forever.”
Woods admitted to feeling pressure on the track because of the expectation she put on herself and fanatical home crowd.
“It was a difficult week. I was in the best shape I had ever been in my life, but there was a lot of pressure and it did affect me – not only did I want to do well, but the whole country wanted it too.
“I had worked so hard for it, and though I had improved my performances the other athletes had upped their game as well. It just wasn’t happening for me. I was getting a bit down ut I knew I had to stay positive and believe in myself.”
Shelly had detailed talks with her coach Peter Eriksson and her trusted sports psychologist Dean Leak, who contacted her from Portugal to offer advice on preparing for the marathon.
She will join the likes of Mo Farah and Haile Gebrselassie as she bids for her fifth victory in the Great North Run.
Woods also plans to compete in the New York Marathon in November, but before then she and husband Chris will go on a belated honeymoon to Mauritius at the end of this month.
Shelly said: “It will be good to relax on a nice, white beach with a cool drink in my hand and spend some time with Chris, who did not see a lot of me before the Paralympics.”