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Driven on by a puppy named Donald

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Ollie Williams | 08:46 UK time, Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Mhairi Spence is drunk with elation, giddily staggering through admiring embraces, letting out cries of disbelief.

In a field outside Rome, after years of frustration, perspiration and pure hope on the fringes of the Olympic movement, she has taken a giant step towards her ultimate dream: a puppy named Donald.

Spence, 26, should top your list of athletes you'd pick to cross a finish line first. It's how she reacts. Her emotions sit squarely on the surface even at the quietest of times but here in Italy, moments ago, she has won a world title and nobody needs to ask, "How do you feel?"

Hauled off the floor by wide-eyed coaching staff, she is dragged, gurgling with "Oh-my-God" ecstasy, past a crowd of well-wishers until she finds some open space and words break through.

"I'm going to the Olympic Games! I can't believe it, I can't... Oh my God... My dream has come true." She gulps back sobs. "It's so cheesy, but it's true." With that, she collapses into the arms of the British performance director.

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