Lynsey Sharp: Scottish athlete on importance of smear tests after surgery

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'It shouldn't be embarrassing to talk about'

Lynsey Sharp may know of friends that have never been for a smear test but, as of this year, the Scottish athlete is well aware of the importance of one.

In November, the former 800m European champion had surgery to remove pre-cancerous cells.

Now the 29-year-old wants to encourage women to never make the mistake of avoiding cervical screening.

"It's not something people want to talk about, but it shouldn't be embarrassing because your health is the most important thing," she told BBC Scotland.

"Once you start speaking about things like that, you realise how common it is.

"People have been messaging me that had never been for a smear test and I made them go get one. That was why I shared my story in the first place.

"If I can help one person, then I've potentially saved one person's life. If I can share that, at least there is a positive to come out of it."

Following Sharp's initial test in March, she was able to put the results to one side as she prepared for and competed in the World Championships in Doha.

However, with the issue getting worse after further tests, the Scot had a choice to make.

"The decision was either wait until January for it to resolve itself or get the surgery done", said Sharp.

"The results that came back after the surgery showed that I wouldn't have been able to leave it until January because the cells came back as pre-cancerous, so it was definitely the right thing to do."

Lynsey Sharp
Sharp exited the Doha World Championships in September at the heat stage

Looking ahead to Tokyo

Sharp endured a poor World Championships in September, crashing out in the heats.

However, after an emotional and challenging period, she is ready to put 2019 behind her and look forward to the Tokyo Olympics next year.

"I moved back from San Diego in March and that was a huge decision in itself", said Sharp.

"I feel a lot happier in my routine back here. I just feel a lot more positive and confident with my set-up leading into Tokyo. I'll have a full run of it this year rather than it being disrupted moving from 5,000 miles away."

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