Sally Gunnell’s precocious talent found one of its happiest homes at the European Athletics Indoor Championships.
The 400m flier remains out on her own in the record books, still the only female British athlete to have claimed Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth titles.
Gunnell, hailing from Chigwell, Essex, found the rigours of the continental stage a gruelling proving ground for her long and distinguished career as a sprinter and hurdler.
As the latest instalment of our series Where Stars Are Born, we take a look back at the 52-year-old’s achievements under the European Athletics Indoor Championships banner.
When Gunnell came within a whisker of Olympic selection at the tender age of 18 in both heptathlon and 100 metres hurdles, it was clear British athletics had reared a special talent.
And Scotland, soon to draw the curtain on the 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships, would be a constantly meaningful stage in the youngster’s career.
Her first senior medal came as a 20-year-old in the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, storming to 100m hurdles success in 13.29s ahead of compatriot Wendy Jeal.
Qualifying for and impressing in major finals were a staple for Gunnell in her early 20’s, going deep in the 1987 World Championships.
She made her European Athletics Indoor Championships debut in Budapest that same Olympic year but missed out on the podium up against a German juggernaut.
Petra Muller, Helga Arendt and Dagmar Neubauer monopolised the rostrum in Hungary, a tough early experience for Gunnell that many might not have overcome.
Instead the irrepressible sprinter stormed to 400m gold in the Hague a year later, winning her heat and clocking 52.04s to win by a length in the final.
In an Olympic year, it was a defining display and Seoul 1988 saw her storm through to the 400m hurdles final in her first senior season on the track.
Gunnell is further evidence the Championships can act as the ultimate marker and clear catalyst for careers, her feet barely touching the ground after triumph in the Hague.
But the 1990 European Indoor Championships in Glasgow, the last and only time the iconic Caledonian city has hosted the event before this March 1-3, offered a reality check.
Coming in with high expectations after double Commonwealth gold a month before, finished a distant fourth in the final – despite qualifying in second-place – 0.36s off the podium.
She also failed to qualify for the final of the European Championships over the summer, her only return from Split a bronze in the 4x400m relay.
As every true champion does, the Essex Ladies product used the experience to her advantage and embarked on a career-defining gold glut.
1992 was the year she became a household name with Olympic gold over 400m in Barcelona and within a couple of years she could call herself a European and World champion.
Her legendary status remains in intact – and not just on these shores. As a hurdler she is also unparalleled.
Gunnell is still the only female 400m hurdler in history to have broken a world record, which she smashed at the 1993 World Championships, and become Olympic and World champion.