WRITTEN FOR SKYSPORTS
Only half a second separates 400m hurdler David Greene from the top spot on the British all-time lists and the Welshman is set to capitalise on a breakthrough 2009 by smashing his times and medal hopes this season, writes Nicola Bamford.
Currently the British number four in hurdling history, Greene is in fine form of late following a 48.96 clocking in Poland last week to inch closer to his 48.27 personal best set at the World championships in Berlin last summer; where he finished a surprising seventh.
The 24-year-old opened his 2010 campaign by registering two solid runs behind world-class opposition on the IAAF Diamond League circuit in Ostrava and Oslo before annihilating his 400m flat best with 46.38 to take his native championship recently.
A player for Swansea City FC as a youth, Greene revealed his thoughts on his early-season form:
“I was pleased with different aspects of the hurdles races so far this year but feel I can do faster. I’m just biding my time for Barcelona, really.
I had one or two injuries earlier on this year but managed to shake them off, luckily, so it’s great to be running faster.”
Focused on gold
Next the Bath-based athlete will compete for Team GB in the European Team Cup in Norway this weekend before tackling the British trials; where he will start as hot favourite to retain his title ahead of the European championships in Barcelona in July.
It is the continental championships which are a huge target and opportunity to capture his first senior international gold for the man coached by coaching legend Malcolm Arnold; the brains behind Ugandan John Akii-Bua’s 1972 Olympic 400m hurdles victory and Brit Colin Jackson’s 110m hurdles former world-record.
Greene took the European under23 title in 2007 but will certainly be hoping to dramatically improve on his last European performance; third in his heat at the 2006 event.
“The Euro Team Cup will be a good preview for the European champs and it will be good to gauge where I am,” explained Greene; who is managed commercially by 1999 World indoor 400m champion Jamie Baulch of Definitive Sports Management.
“I’m not worried about the times, I want to win both. It would be negative of me to think anything other than the gold; that’s my mentality.” Greene explained of his ambition to take both European and Commonwealth gold this year.
“The Commonwealth’s (in New Delhi this October) are only every four years so I want to run very well for Wales. Peaking won’t be an issue for me as I’m very endurance based rather than pure speed.”
Life at the Top
If confidence and determination was enough to win gold, then Greene would be certain of grabbing the top honours but he is well aware of the need to train hard in order to keep his place among the world’s elite.
“2009 was a big step up and very pleasing; it gave me a taste of life at the top and I couldn’t wait to get back into winter training afterwards,” Greene explained.
“I’ve been with Malcolm for a year now; he keeps me on my toes and it’s a great relationship. I’m not even the fastest hurdler he’s ever coached so if I can achieve anywhere near what those guys did, I’ll be doing well for myself.”
Training with 2006 European 400m hurdles bronze-medallist Rhys Williams, Greene urges his fellow Brit-pack to up their game in championship year:
“We should have more people going under 50-seconds, really. Rhys is a really good athlete and my closest competitor but I’m very confident of keeping my British number one spot.”
Indeed, Greene is not only looking as a good bet for gold in Spain and India this year but also; after another year under Arnold’s tutelage, should find himself as a top contender for the World championships next summer and ultimately, his longer-term goal.
“I’ll be older and more experienced by 2012 so I’m definitely aiming for the gold (in the London Olympics). I’ll need to be better than the Americans and I like to think that I can progress every year.”
Progress every year he certainly has done - and then some, so that British all-time top ranking and global gold may not be too far away for this Welsh wonder.