Sofia Ennaoui in the 1500m at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 (© Getty Images)
Sofia Ennaoui has spent the past four years negotiating her way through to the senior ranks, picking up continental medals on the track and at cross country. The 23-year-old Polish middle-distance runner recounts her career high of claiming European 1500m silver, one year after exiting the World Championships at the semifinal stage.
My career high came this year at the European Championships in Berlin. I won my first ever senior outdoor medal, and this was an incredible moment for me.
Before the outdoor season began, I spent a lot of time up in the mountains doing altitude training. I was training hard for just one competition (the European Championships) and wanted to make sure that I peaked there and not anywhere else. I skipped the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham and instead rested my body as I wanted to ensure that in August I would be at my very best.
Going into the 1500m final in Berlin, I didn’t feel nervous. I just felt at home; I knew I was ready to race. I think because I had planned this moment so carefully, all my nerves disappeared and I knew I had one job to do. I was so focused and I think that’s why the race went as I had planned it.
Crossing the line knowing I was a medallist at the European Championships was such an incredible feeling. I had won medals previously at the European Indoor Championships, but this felt so much bigger.
For me, my lowest point came last year at the World Championships. Not making the final in the 1500m broke my heart.
The semi-final was the worst race of my life. My tactics didn’t work and it really frustrated me. This was my second World Championships, I was in the exact same situation in Beijing at the World Championships two years before, so I didn’t want to make that same mistake again in London.
Going into 2017, making the World Championships final was my main goal. I wanted a top-eight finish but instead it was my worst nightmare: I was the fastest non-qualifier for the final.
A year before at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games I made the final and finished 10th. I wanted to keep improving every year, but this felt like I was going backwards. Missing out on that final really hurt me and changed me as an athlete. 2017 was my worst year.
Even though I won a medal at the European Indoor Championships in 2017, all I kept thinking was that competing during the indoor season led me to not making final in London. I felt like I was doing too many different races, I just felt tired. That same winter I also did a big cross country season too, I won under-23 gold at the European Cross Country Championships.
Now I know that if I keep racing all winter like I used to do, I won’t be successful outdoors, but if I focus my energy on one goal, I know I can achieve it.
Ben Harlow for the IAAF