By Mark Etheridge
South Africa’s United States based Rio Olympian, Dominique Scott opened her 2017 Spring season earlier this month with a classy top-five finish at the Carlsbad 5000 event in Carlsbad, California.
It was anyone’s race inside the last 400m before Kenyan 1500m Olympian Viola Lagat surged ahead in the final metres to win in 15min 35sec. She was followed home by three-time Olympian Shannon Rowbury of the United States in 15:36 with yet another Olympian, 3000m steeplechaser Aisha Praught of Jamaica, third in the same time. The Capetonian finished fourth, just four seconds back in 15:40min.
Said Scott (far left in the main photo): ‘I felt strong but I wasn’t sure I had that extra gear over the last 400m. It’s really early in the season, I gave it a good effort and that’s all that counts.
‘I knew it was going to be fast as it’s always perfect weather here in California. I just wanted to have fun for my first race of the spring. My main focus was to go out and give a good effort and just see where my training is. Then go home and re-assess for my first track race.’
‘The race itself was very exciting, we started slower than I’d expected… no-one wanted to take the lead. Everyone was a bit timid for the first mile and then I found myself in the front. I didn’t freak out. I felt good and just tried to stay relaxed and not worry about the pack of girls on my back.
‘Then in the last mile the pressure really started to add up as everyone knew the finish line was just around the corner.’
Scott says the diverse nature of the line-up made it all the more fun. ‘It really made things interesting having such a big variety of athletes, with a range of ability. Some have already been pro for years, others (like me) were straight out of college. In the end it was a kicker’s race which played into the hand of the faster 1500m runners because we had started quite slowly.’
She also took time to describe the metamorphosis from collegiate to full-time running career. ‘When you run for a big university and are part of the NCAA for five years you are truly looked after. Everything is planned and organised for you. Then all of a sudden you have to take care of yourself and it’s like: “Where would I like to race, which races are more important, how many miles should I run this week?” Things like that.
‘You grow up very quickly and learn to take responsibility for your season and career,’ she laughed.
‘So in the past eight months I’ve learnt a lot: about myself, what I want to achieve etc. Rio [the Olympics] where I competed on the biggest stage against the best athletes in the world, gave me a lot of experience.’
Dominique’s first track race of the 2017 outdoor season was planned to be the South African Track and Field Championships this weekend, but unfortunately due to a death in husband Cameron’s family she will not be able to attend.
‘Sadly, Cameron’s grandmother passed away last weekend. She was 81 years old and lived a full a happy life. This weekend we are honouring her with a visitation, funeral and family time,’ Scott said.
‘I would have loved to come home, see my family and race on home soil, but I need to be with my American family.’