Hejnova's back where she belongs

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At 8.03pm on Friday in Monaco, a forgotten face will crouch down into her blocks in lane six at the Stade Louis II arena. Less than a minute later, Zuzana Hejnova will hope to have said goodbye to the bad times.

'I want to run again, to soak up the atmosphere of racing,' she says. And run Hejnova will do, for the first time in almost a year, at the Diamond League meeting after finally battling back from injury.

In 2013, Hejnova was the Female European Athlete of the Year after her extraordinary exploits over the 400m hurdles. She was unbeaten at the distance, winning the world title in Moscow and the Diamond Race without being threatened.

But at the start of January she fractured a bone in her instep and a dark cloud hovered over her preparations.

Yet now, as long as the race on Friday night goes well, it is looking likely she will aim for the European Athletics Championships in Zurich next month in an event where Eilidh Child, of Great Britain, leads the European rankings with 54.39.

Twelve months ago, Hejnova broke the Czech Republic’s national record when she stormed to glory at the World Championships in 52.83. Even allowing for her absence, lack of race fitness and her body adjusting to being back from an injury, Hejnova could lose a second - even more - off her best and still be the gold medal favourite in Zurich if Monaco goes well.

Ironically, her last race was in Zurich at the Diamond League meeting last August.

She has a tough way to start, with Jamaican Kaliese Spencer, who leads the Diamond League standings, two lanes to her left and the holder of the world’s quickest time this year with 53.41. Also in the race are the women with the next two best times, Americans Kori Carter, who has run 53.84, and Georganne Moline, who has 54.00.

But therein lies the challenge for Hejnova, whose ability to control races from the start was such a feature of her brilliance in 2013. It might be a tentative opening but if she feels good, she might decide to make her mark along the back straight in Monaco and then it could be like the past few months never happened.

Hejnova, 27, is apprehensive but relishing the prospect of being back.

In an interview with, she said: 'Of course I will be very nervous because I did not compete for a long time. I know that I am not in perfect form and fully prepared. I will sure look forward but I get a little scared.

'(I) always tend to be a little nervous and now I am even more in that I did not stand at the start since last August.'

By 8.04pm on Friday, she will have found the answers she is looking for.

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