A WEEK after arriving home, Hayley Jones admits she has yet to get used to the feeling of winning a bronze medal at the World Championships.
Maybe she’ll need the weighty, metal gong around her neck before it sinks in – in which case, she will have to wait a few more weeks.
Having been upgraded to third-place hours after the podium presentation, owing to the France team’s disqualification, the Wigan Harrier and her GB team-mates arrived back from Moscow without any prizes.
“I thought we would have got our medals in the week but we got an email to say it would be a while yet. September, maybe October,” she said.
“They didn’t want to post them because they didn’t want to risk them getting lost.
“It’s been quite a crazy time because our event was the second to last of the competition, so by the time we had raced we’d been away from home for a month, trained, watched the others compete... it’s been a real whirlwind. I keep saying it will sink when I get the medal.”
Jones ran the final leg for GB, crossing the line in fourth spot.
The French relay team stepped onto the podium to collect their silver – only to be later stripped of the honour for passing the baton outside of the allowed zone, bumping USA up to second and handing GB an unexpected bronze.
Recalling the “surreal” Sunday evening she discovered she had become a World Championship medallist, Jones said: “We got a text through from one of the boys in the 4x100m. It just said, ‘You got bronze’.
“But there was no explanation with it or smiley face, so we weren’t sure if it was true! We were all looking on the internet, trying to find out what was going on. All the other athletes came out onto the corridor when they heard us screaming!”
Jones has still not seen the incident which led to France beinq disqualified. The GB men’s team also dropped out of a medal place because of a technical fault – harshly illustrating the complexities of the relay event.
“The speed of the baton is the one constant, there are so many intricate parts that determine who wins, it’s not just about which team has the four fastest girls,” she said.
“It’s so hard to be running flat out, your hand behind your back, not knowing if you set off at the right time or not. It takes a lot of work, a lot of training.”
Jones – who joined Harriers a decade ago – has returned to the Robin Park base, close to her new home, determined to use this experience as a launchpad to bigger and better things. The Rio Olympics in 2016 is her long-term goal, but before then she has a Diamond League meeting this week.
“I really think this will push me to where I want to be,” said the 24-year-old maths graduate.
“I’m really settled in Wigan now. Everything’s good.”