WRITTEN FOR SKYSPORTS
With thousands of hours of hard graft and years of dedication, highs and lows, chasing an Olympic dream is hard enough, but for some athletes like Bruce Raeside, the journey to 2012 Olympian is tougher than most, writes Nicola Bamford.
Neglected by his home nation and with limited funding, the 28-year-old Scot has battled adversity to rise to potential British representative in the London Games two years from now.
Working part-time in an entertainment call-centre to fund his Olympic dream, the Notts AC athlete had an injury-ravaged summer but still managed to register four lifetime bests on the track and the road and no less than eighteen race victories during the 2010 season.
Based in Nottingham since his university days as a Sports Science student, the distance runner strained his adductor muscle whilst training with the UK Athletics camp at high-altitude in Font Romeu, in the Pyrenees back in April, resulting in him temporarily quitting his specialist steeplechase event.
“I couldn’t hurdles the barriers as my groin was really painful,” Raeside explained.
“It took a few months to go away but I was stubborn, running through the summer and it paid off – I’ve had no pain for a while now.
I focused on 5,000m as I couldn’t do any speed-work, as it hurt so much and I could only get to 75% of my maximum speed so I was surprised to win the Home International mile (in Middlesbrough in September) in 3:52.00 and beat three guys who went onto the Commonwealth’s.”
It was the Commonwealth Games in Delhi last month that represented Raeside’s biggest goal of the year and despite showing promising form on the track, he inevitably failed to make the Scottish squad due to the ongoing groin issue.
“Not making Delhi was tough but I knew I couldn’t steeplechase and I only finished sixth in the 5,000m trial after having a weeks’ rest. I was limping and think I could have got a medal and qualified if it wasn’t for that.
I’m looking forward to the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow but I want to prove a point to Scottish Athletics – they don’t communicate with or support me, perhaps it’s because I live in England but I’d love to run for them.
I was obviously disappointed but overall, I turned the negatives into positives and it makes me hungry for the future,” Raeside revealed.
Indeed, refusing to be down-beat and end his season on a low note, Raeside plugged away to overcome his injury nightmare before returning to set the quickest short stage in the national road relays last month and even took his injury-free body on an adventure by winning the Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest Tri-Nation series over the autumn to secure two new sponsors.
Coached by Trevor Muxlow, Raeside states winning the Home Countries cross-country international in March and speeding to 13:53.93 for 5,000m on the track in May as his highlights of his year but now in winter training – averaging 90-miles per week – Raeside hopes to make an even bigger impact on both the domestic and international scene.
Contesting the British trial for the European cross-country championships this weekend, Raeside hopes to be selected for the continental competition in Portugal next month before turning his attentions to the track.
“I won’t do the indoor season but I’ll do the 3,000m at the UK championships and European trials (for Paris in March),” Raeside revealed.
“I want to train purely for the cross season for strength and target the UK cross-country championships and World trial – also in March - so I can have a good summer on the track.”
Evidently eager to return to his track roots over the barriers in fine form next summer, the 2009 UK runner-up in the 3,000m steeplechase will hope for a big revision of his 8:49.60 lifetime best, set in 2009 which ranked him third in the country.
“I’d like to make the World’s (in Daegu, South Korea) next year for the ‘chase and the big focus is making 2012,” Raeside explained.
“I’m determined to make the steeplechase team for 2012 - I just need to get into the low 8:20-range. There aren’t enough high-quality steeplechase races in the UK and it’s hard to get opportunities abroad.
“I’ve definitely got the best lifestyle to give myself the best possible chance to make 2012 – it was only three years ago, I made the commitment to slow down my social life in order to step up so I’ve probably got quite a few years ahead until I peak.”
Revealing that he aspires to go into personal training in London after the Games, Raeside explained:
“Having ‘2012 Olympian’ on my CV would look great for that.”
It certainly would and after surviving many set-backs and prevailing against the odds, this determined runner surely deserves to reach his Olympic dream on a much smoother path to 2012 and beyond.