DEALING with injuries is part and parcel of an elite athlete’s life. But Sol Sweeney has had to deal with more than a pulled muscle or a sprained ankle this year; he has had to contend with a collapsed lung. Twice.

His first co0llapsed lung happened at the start of the year, with the second happening towards the end of the summer and it did, he admits, make things very difficult.

“It’s quite painful – when I tried to run, it was sore and even when I was sitting doing nothing, it was pretty painful,” the middle-distance specialist said.

“Things like walking up the stairs can be tough but gradually, that goes away although it takes a while longer to be able to run again.

“There’s nothing specific that causes it, it just can be quite common in young males. It could happen again, there’s a risk of that.”

Sweeney has managed to put his issues behind him though, and this weekend, will line up at the European Cross-Country Championships in Lisbon.

The 21-year-old has been selected for GB after a strong winter, including an impressive run that saw him finish second behind Olympian Andy Butchart, who will also be in Lisbon, in the Scottish Short-Course Cross-Country Championships last month before being the fourth under-23 finisher in the Euro trials a fortnight ago in Liverpool.

And so with his form as it is, Sweeney is excited to see how he can do in Lisbon.

“I’m looking forward to it, it should be a good race,” he said.

“I feel like I’m in pretty good cross-country shape. I wasn’t sure how it would go in Liverpool but I actually felt pretty strong so that was really encouraging. It’s a slightly shorter distance in Lisbon – it’s only 8km so that’s good for me.”

A good result in Portugal would cap off a good year for Sweeney, setting a new personal best in the mile and the 3000m but the Glasgow University athlete, who is coached by Andy Young and trains alongside Laura Muir, admits he wasn’t satisfied with his performances and he is relishing the chance to get some uninterrupted training under his belt ahead of next year.

“I wasn’t too happy with my year in terms of times but when you take into account what happened, I guess it wasn’t too bad,” he said.

“I did manage to get myself in shape to run some decent times but it was all pretty disrupted. So it’s pretty encouraging knowing that things were so disrupted this year, what could I do next year?

“It gives me confidence going into next year that if things go well and things aren’t disrupted, I’d be confident about running well.”

As Sweeney looks ahead to 2020, he plans to do an indoor season before he heads outdoors. And with the British Indoor Championships in Glasgow in February, he has a real target to aim for.

“I’ll do some 1500m in the indoor season but I’ll focus more on the 3k,” he said.

“The British Indoor Champs in Glasgow are a big one. I train in the Emirates every day so it’ll be great to have the chance to race there.”

Meanwhile it has been revealed that discussions to create a new centre of excellence for athletics in Scotland are at an advanced stage, with Scottish Athletics chief executive Mark Munro “confident” the project will go ahead.

The preferred location is a venue along the M8 corridor although Munro has admitted finding the funds is the biggest challenge.

“It’s a lot of money, around £5-6m. But, in the grand scheme of facility builds, it’s low level,” Munro told BBC Scotland.

“Operations and costs need to be sustainable and need to work for athletes. We’re close to getting it right and I’m confident that we can make it happen.”