Thursday, 28 April 2011

Bing of the Bang


Having captured his first major championship individual medal last July, 400m man Michael Bingham is aiming to replicate the same success on the global stage later this summer, writes Nicola Bamford.

The 25-year-old sped to European silver in Barcelona after being pipped for gold by his training partner Kevin Borlee of Belgium, but bounced back to record a 44.84 season’s best when representing Europe in third place at the IAAF/VTB Continental Cup in Croatia in what was a breakthrough year for the North Carolina-born athlete.

Having transferred allegiance to Team GB in the spring of 2008 through his Nottingham-born father, Bingham has enjoyed an impressive rate of progression of late, most notably as part of his adopted nation’s 4x400m relay squad.

Only days after receiving his VISA by FedEx in the US, the former international junior decathlete placed third in the British Olympic trials and went onto help the team to fourth in the Beijing Games later that summer.

The following season, he finished a fine seventh in the World Championship final (with a 44.74 life-time best to jump to eleventh on the national all-time list) and enjoyed his first piece of silverware with the British quartet – a silver medal which would again be achieved in Barcelona twelve months later.

And although he is yet to compete in 2011, the British number-one for the past two years is excited about the competitions ahead:

“Training has been going better than last year and I'm feeling more confident in my abilities,” Bingham explains.

“Of course, we'll have to see what the summer actually brings as far as performance but physically, I'm in the best shape of my career thus far.

“Seriously, the only competition I'm focused on is the World’s - the other comps are important in the process, but my ultimate goal is to bring some shiny stuff back.”


Coached by 1998 Commonwealth Games 400m hurdles bronze-medallist Ken Harden of Zimbabwe whilst based at the Florida State University track in Tallahassee for six months of the year, Bingham is still all too aware that despite his dominance in British one-lap sprinting, he can-not afford to rest on his laurels just yet.

Training at the UK Athletics High Performance Centre in Loughborough between May and October, the quietly-spoken runner trains alongside his principle rival, the European bronze-medallist Martyn Rooney.

“The 400m in Britain is going through a generational shift in that there are many young guys that are fast and will show their talents soon,” Bingham reveals.

“I'm excited and I think fast times will breed fast times and we'll each fuel one another to run quicker - I look forward to the summer.”

And although this forthcoming August represents a major aim in Bingham’s aspirations, it will of course be the summer of 2012 which will remain the biggest focus of all in the countdown to the London Olympic Games:

“I want to surprise some people,” he explains.

“I'm a softly-spoken person sometimes and people think that means I'm not serious or that I'm shy but, in truth, I'm humble and just want my actions to speak.

“My plan is to shock some people and hopefully earn some true respect without trying to claim it with silly talk about what time I'm going to run, who I'm going to beat or what records I'm going to break.

“We'll just have to wait and see but I'm hungry as ever.”

Making a Name for Himself


Following years of being hidden amongst an, albeit successful Team GB 4x400m relay squad, Conrad Williams is determined to race into the individual limelight this summer, writes Nicola Bamford.

The 29-year-old stormed to an impressive 45.45 400m clocking in Geneva, Switzerland last June to become Britain’s third-fastest of the season but still missed out on making an impact on the international championship stage.

Finishing only sixth in the semi-final stage at the European Championships in Barcelona in July and placing sixth in the Commonwealth Games final in Delhi last October, Williams enjoyed bringing home the silverware from the relay event only – claiming silver and bronze, respectively.

Guided by 1992 Olympic 100m champion Linford Christie at his Brunel University base, Williams explains his opinion on his 2010 campaign:

“So far, 2010 was my most successful year – I did all my PB's and won three major medals.”

The third, of course, was the World indoor 4x400m relay bronze taken in Doha in March but understandably, Williams is keen to add to his individual medal collection, rather than rest of his laurels just yet.


By his own admission, after using the 2011 indoor season for a bit of fun – complete with a couple of 800m appearances – Williams recently headed out to the United States for a spell of warm-weather training to prepare more seriously.

Opening his outdoor campaign with two eye-catching personal-best performances in Arizona (10.65 for 100m and 21.29 for 200m), the Londoner reveals:

“I’m feeling good and things are looking good with the stuff we’ve been doing in training.

“The indoor season was to take the edge off and just have fun, now my goals are to run PB's and get to the worlds champs 400m final.”

The main event in question is the global championship in Daegu, South Korea this August where Williams hopes to not only make his individual debut on the World outdoor stage but to also make an impact.

At the last edition in Berlin two years ago, he had to settle for achieving only a
superb team silver but after his two major championship experiences last summer, has intentions of reaching at least the semi-final stage this time around.

First though, Williams will have to qualify for British selection and in an event where the nation boasts two of Europe’s finest in continental silver and bronze-medallists Michael Bingham and Martyn Rooney, standing out will certainly be tough:

“I think the men’s 400m is one of the most exciting events right now,” he explains.

“We’ve got a lot of talent in it and each year it’s getting hard and the gaps are closing.”

Even more daunting is his aim of making the Olympic 400m squad for the London Olympics next summer but Williams remains patient and realistic in his quest to finally make a name for himself:

“2012, it’s a big year for me but I’m just going to take each day as it comes and after that who knows,” he reveals.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Marathon Breakthrough


After enduring Spartan-like conditions in Africa for much of the year in an Olympic marathon quest, Alyson Dixon returned to Britain earlier this month to the loss of her job but also the delight of World championship selection, writes Nicola Bamford.

The 32-year-old’s sacrifices in two month-long trips to train in Kenya paid off in dividends a fortnight ago when she sliced almost eight minutes off her 26.2 mile best when winning the Brighton marathon.

The accomplishment has earned the Chester-le-Street runner a Team GB call-up to the global championship event in Daegu, South Korea this August, where she hopes to make further inroads on her time as well as an impact with a top-twenty finish:

“The selection is a dream-come-true for me!” Dixon revealed.
“Daegu will be my second GB vest (after placing forty-fifth in the 2009 World half-marathon championships in Birmingham) - this is a much bigger event and will be my first experience of holding camps and living in the athletes’ village.”

Although her 2:34.51 recent clocking places her as the fourth-fastest Briton on the current 2011 rankings and surpassed the qualifying mark for Deagu, Dixon had a nervous wait to see whether UK Athletics would recognise the mark which had been achieved on a course which was later to be found as un-ratified by International Athletics:

“I had to wait for over a week but now I’m very excited about what the future holds - it still hasn’t completely sunk in that I have at last run a marathon time that I knew that I am capable of, I believe I am capable of running sub-2.30,” she explained.


Guided by 1991 World 10,000m champion Liz McColgan, Sunderland-based Dixon has to make do with coaching over the phone as her mentor lives in Scotland but she is evidently comfortable with going it alone.

At the turn of the year, she spent a month in the home of 2000 Great North Run winner John Mutai and his family in Kericho before returning again in March for another spell of Rocky Balboa-style hard graft:

“Kenya was an amazing experience,” Dixon revealed.

“The lifestyle over there was very basic - run, eat, sleep, repeat and training was no different to what I would do at home but of course it is all harder due to the altitude, hills and heat.

I was covering up to 120 miles a week the first time I was out there but only 110-115 the second time, as I was starting to ease down for the marathon by then.

It was quite lonely over there and I did miss my family and friends back home but it was all worth it.”

Indeed, on the back of such life-changing adventures, Dixon enjoyed 10km and half-marathon lifetime bests of 33:28 and 72:31, respectively before her quite literal,
marathon breakthrough.

She has taken the loss of her sports development contract with Team Northumbria University on the chin as it will enable her to train full-time en route to her ultimate aim - the London Olympics next year.


The start to her 2011 campaign is a far cry from the rollercoaster season Dixon endured last year.

After injuring her knee a month before her marathon debut in London (2:43.48) in April, she then collapsed in an attempt to make Team GB selection for the 10,000m in the summer and had to make the most of freezing conditions in the New York marathon (2:42.50) in November.

“2010 did not go to plan for me at all and this resulted in quite a bit of criticism coming our way in terms of people saying that I was over-training and basically writing me off from ever running at a decent level again,” explained Dixon.

“Though, I’m quite good in situations like that and I can use the negativity and turn it into fuel to help me prove the doubters wrong.”

Prove she did and she is now set to train at high-altitude in the French Pyrenees in the search for the Olympic qualifying time (2:31) for next summer’s 2012 Games:

“I would love to be running around the streets of London next year – it’s my ultimate dream and I won’t give up on my quest of doing it until that gun goes,” Dixon revealed.

I’m prepared to put in all the hard work needed and will give it everything I have and with a bit of luck I will be on that start-line!!”

England Expects


Frustrated to be left off the squad for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 1500m runner Hannah England is determined to make it on to Team GB for the London Games next summer, writes Nicola Bamford.

The 23-year-old ended 2010 as Britain’s number-three metric miler and despite a disappointing summer, managed to turn her campaign around with two promising performances at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi last autumn.

Guided by Bud Baldaro in Birmingham, England finished a lacklustre tenth in the European championship 1500m final in Barcelona last July after suffering an ankle injury days before but bounced back to claim fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 1500m and 800m in India.

In a mostly-impressive campaign, England’s 4:04.33 1500m season’s best in Gateshead from July left her third on the British rankings for the year, whilst her 2:00.47 800m recording from the Commonwealth final placed her as fifth.

“Last year, it was great to make the two big championships but I was disappointed in Barcelona, I didn’t run at all the three days before so I didn’t think I’d even make the final,” England explains.

“It was a massive learning curve as I didn’t deal with it very well but I hope to learn from it and I didn’t let it ruin Delhi for me.

There, it was great being in the mix and being able to ease through the rounds – I was happy with both of my performances even finishing fourth because I’d come back from disappointment and was proud of myself – it was a nice note to end the season on.”

Her season, indeed was eye-catching - after additionally smashing her 3,000m indoor lifetime best with 8:56.72 in Boston last February, England went on to win the
Loughborough International 800m, the UK outdoor title, place runner-up in the European Team championships and run a scintillating 4:25.29 road mile in New York to go to third on the national all-time list – but as she is well aware, success is often solely defined by championship performances.


After being left off the 2009 World championship and 2008 Olympic squads despite having the qualifying times and finishing third in both national trials, England vowed to not miss out on selection again.

With an impressive thirteen national medals over the past seven years to her name, England – who captured her first UK crown in 2005 – used the agonising experiences to storm to her first senior title five years later and is keen to re-establish herself as UK number-one again this year.

Engaged to GB 3,000m steeplechaser Luke Gunn, the Birmingham University Biochemistry graduate and Honorary research fellow reveals:

“It was gutting to win the national title to then get overshadowed by Lisa (Dobriskey, World 1500m silver-medallist) and Steph (Twell, Commonwealth 1500m bronze-medallist) in the rest of the season.

But I’m going just as well as last year and I’m hoping to make my first world outdoor championships (in Daegu, South Korea in August) - I’d like to make the final, though the qualifying rounds are ruthless.

I’d also like to run faster over 1500m this year, as my personal best doesn’t reflect my ability and I’d like to retain my UK outdoor title.”

Training alongside European 3,000m steeplechaser fourth-placer Hatti Dean at her west-Midlands base, England has just returned from a month-long spell of training in Kenya with the UK Athletics team in an effort to further progress this year:

“Training’s going really well and although Kenya was a bit of a culture shock, it was also a lot of fun,” she explains.

“It was really cool training with such a big team all with the same work ethic and it was also nice to get to know my team-mates more.

I worked hard there and I’m now really excited to see how strong I can get. I really enjoyed the experience and it was beneficial having the medical team out there with us as well.”


Mentored by double Olympic gold-medallist Dame Kelly Holmes, England is keen to get back to the form with saw her cause shockwaves in the 2009 season.

After bursting onto the senior international scene in 2008 during a year studying at Florida State University, the tall, elegant athlete improved further to set stunning marks of 4:04.29 and 1:59.94 to place sixteenth and seventeenth, respectively on the UK all-time rankings.

Although the Berlin world championships were not to be, England’s speedy achievements were proof that major championship selection was just around the corner and after a mixed 2010, she is hoping a three-week stint at high-altitude in Font Romeu this spring will kick-start a year to rival her 2009 season:

“This year’s a vital stepping stone for next but the project right now is to have an amazing summer to hopefully be even better in 2012,” England reveals.

“I find the Olympics both motivating and scary. I’d love to make the final and what’s awesome about the 1500m is that anything can happen.
Having the Games is amazing and it doesn’t make me feel the pressure anymore by being at home.

Luke and I would both be over the moon if either of us made it as it’s a life-changing experience for any athlete. We’ve been through enough together in various championships to not feel jealous of the other but it would be so cool if we could both go.”

With a desired wedding date of Christmas 2012, the duo plan to have the event organised before the biggest event of their careers and should England qualify, she will certainly have more than one cause to celebrate next year.

Back From the Brink


It had taken seven frustrating years to return to international glory but now, injury-free and with an un-removable smile on his face, Chris Thompson is here to stay and eager to make up for lost time, writes Nicola Bamford.

After claiming continental junior 5,000m gold in 2003, ‘Thommo’ as he is affectionately known in athletic circles, endured years of injury hell and missed the majority of the 2007 and 2008 seasons through a string of problems.

A weaker man would have retired long ago but the 29-year-old refused to give up on the sport he loved and after persisting for so long, he finally got his wish – a return to the medals podium on the international stage.

It seemed only a solid period of consistent training and health was needed for his breakthrough and the eight-time UK middle-distance medallist picked a fine year to time his comeback – just two years out from the London Olympic Games, where he may
just receive the greatest ‘welcome back’ gift of all.

“Last summer was an amazing few months, a time I'll never forget,” Thompson explained.

“When you're so close to losing being part of the sport and then to pull it around with the support of some amazing people, just makes it all feel so amazing to succeed and beat tough situations.

I don't think I have stopped smiling since the summer started and don't think I ever will. I am certainly running with a spring in my step now knowing that anything could be possible after the summer I had.”

Indeed, Thompson’s 2010 track campaign included three lifetime bests and the European 10,000m silver-medal behind Mo Farah, in a glorious one-two for Great Britain in Barcelona last July.

Other highlights for the outgoing athlete were storming to fourth on the British all-time lists with 27:29.61 on his 10,000m debut in the USA back in May, taking the UK 5,000m title, finishing eighth in the 5,000m behind Farah again in Spain and placing fifth and eighth in the 5,000m and 10,000m, respectively, at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi last October.

It was a stunning and memorable summer but Thompson is determined to progress further now that he is back in his grove.


Based in Oregon, USA for much of the year with his coach Mark Rowland and girlfriend and training partner Jemma Simpson, the international 800m runner, Thompson is currently training in Australia ahead of his 2011 season opener in May.

“I have started to put some good weeks of base together and I am starting to roll nicely now,” he revealed.

“Training had a slow start to the winter after picking up a small niggle but this did mean I was given the chance to co-commentate at the Bupa Great Edinburgh international cross-country race with Steve Cram and Brendon Foster on TV, as I had to pull out of the race.

I was sitting in the commentary box just smiling thinking ‘how the hell have I ended up here?’ - little old me, crazy.”

Guided by John Nuthall when staying at his Loughborough base, Thompson is used to the unexpected after finally turning his career around after so many disappointments:

“I had many injuries, ranging from stress fractures, to torn muscles, Achilles injuries, knee damage, torn back, hip ligament inflammation to name a few,” he explained.

“All I can say is I have had on/off problems for six years which meant I couldn't put more than a couple of months training together.

It's like anything in life that you find difficultly with and have to really work for - you have to be really positive and work so hard that it makes success at the end of it such an amazing feeling, especially when you don't know for sure it will ever come.

I think a lot of people found it very odd how much I kept trying and almost started to think I just wasn't good enough, but I just couldn't stop - I had to make it happen because I felt I and people close knew if given the chance, I could produce.

Despite all that belief to actually achieve, so much now blows my mind and I’ll forever feel grateful and humble to the help and support I had to make it all possible.”


With a story similar to that of a Hollywood film, Thompson’s experience of a mix of emotions and uphill battles has inevitably created an athlete who is deservedly destined for an eventful climax.

With the 2012 Olympics less than a year and a half away, the Nike runner finds himself in the form of a potential finalist – but if he keeps on improving as he settles back into the sport, he may well be in medal shape a year from now.

Inspired by his rival and long-time friend, Farah, Thompson is aiming for further improvements in 2011 and beyond:

“I feel like right now we (Team GB) have a great bunch of athletes as people and as talent. As people like Mo push boundaries, it only helps fellow athletes to look further down the road,” revealed Thompson.

“I definitely think there is a lot to be said for having the mentality of 'this is possible because I've seen it done'. You run with more freedom and with more belief.

Especially when your around those athletes doing it. It's like we have an Olympics coming up to be inspired by or something!”

In a key year before his ultimate test, Thompson plans to make an impact at this August’s World championships in Daegu, South Korea, where he hopes to compete with the mighty Africans:

“This year, I mainly plan to try and match last year so I can consolidate my progress so far,” he explained.

“I hope to make the World champs to start gaining experience for next year also.

After 2012, I have some thoughts but as things have already done, they can change a lot depending on how things are going - I don't plan on stopping there for sure.”

With a new lease of life in his second chance in the sport, the refreshed Thommo certainly is on a roll and back from the brink.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Rhys Lightning


After playing second-fiddle to his fierce British rival all last season, Rhys Williams is determined to turn the tables and firmly establish himself on the global scene this year, in the countdown to his Olympic debut in London next summer, writes Nicola Bamford.

Although the 26-year-old Welshman reduced his 400m hurdles lifetime best to 48.96 in 2010, he still finished behind his countryman Dai Greene on the big occasions and ended his campaign more than a second adrift of his toughest competitor.

Twice – in the European championships in Barcelona in July and in the Commonwealth
Games in Delhi last October – Williams had to play number-two on both the British and Welsh lists but as the year marked a comeback from injury, there is surely far more to come.

The son of rugby union legend JJ, Williams’ resurgence back onto the international scene and to ninth on the British all-time lists was indeed impressive following years of crippling injury woes.

Since capturing the 2003 and 2005 European junior and under23 titles, the tall one-lap hurdler burst into the British senior top spot but then missed the 2007 and 2008 seasons through injury.

His lowest point was being forced to concede a spot in the Beijing Olympic Games due to a stress fracture in his right foot - a problem which flared up after attempting to win the UK trials in a last-gasp attempt following a year out with the problem:

“It would be difficult for me to say and for most people to understand, how 2008 and 2009 went for me,” explained Williams.

“I went from having a good season in 2006 (taking European and Commonwealth bronze) to hardly being able to jog, let alone sprint, for two years due to a series of injuries.

Missing the Olympics was tough to accept. I know it may sound cheesy, but overcoming my injury through perseverance is my biggest achievement to date. I learnt a lot about myself in that short space of time.”


Training at Lee Valley athletics centre in London with Dan Pffaff, Williams trains alongside Dwain Chambers, Christian Malcolm and Rob Tobin, and is currently feeling the benefits of focusing on his speed:

“I’m feeling great and optimistic for the season ahead - the last two seasons have been really progressive,” Williams revealed.

Having just completed a Masters degree in history, Williams is searching for another course to complete to keep his mind off the athletic pressures:

“For me, it’s all about switching off, as I have athletics and aiming to be the best on my brain all the time, 24/7,” he explained.

“So I do anything it takes not to think of athletics. I don't watch it on TV or look at results even, as it makes me want to go out and train even harder, which isn't always conducive to running faster.

I live a quiet life if I’m honest, as that's the way it has got be in order to get the most out of yourself.”


With a steely killer ambition to be re-assert himself as the UK number-one and to be the best in the world, Williams will begin his outdoor racing campaign in May on the grand-prix circuit in preparation for a tilt at global glory.

A promising rugby player in his youth as well an international swimmer until aged eighteen, Williams leaves no room for emotion in his quest for perfection:

“I detest my rivals on the track and that’s why they are your rivals,” he revealed.

“The event’s in great health with lots of talent, so it’s a real competitive event.
I’d like to medal at the World championships (in Daegu, South Korea this August) - it will be a dress rehearsal for the London Olympics and I don’t see why I can’t medal there if I can improve the way I think I will this season and perform at the World’s.”

Should his sharp progression continue for the next seventeen months then Williams’ Olympic debut on British soil could well provide a fitting reward for the man who has bounced back from several stress fractures and operations during his track career.

“I’d like to retire from the sport well-known and respected and with many titles,” Williams explained.

Judging by his form in only his second full-season back from the brink of retirement, this Welsh wonder may graduate into a golden athlete just yet.

Friends with the Enemy


After clinching European and Commonwealth gold last season, Andy Turner made the decision to train with his biggest rival this year in a bid to step up to world-level in the summer, writes Nicola Bamford.

The 30-year-old enjoys a constant reminder of his ultimate career goal when often driving past the 2012 Olympic stadium on his way to training in and around London, and after a golden 2010, the sprint hurdler is determined to ensure he has a global breakthrough en route to his third Olympic Games.

Last in his heat in Athens 2004 and fifth in the quarter-final stage in Beijing four years later, Turner has endured two injury-ravaged campaigns but after a glittering few months, the 110m hurdler has established himself as a medal contender for next Augusts’ track and field extravaganza.

And in an effort to bridge the gap between European and World number-one, the father-of-two has created an unlikely friendship with his fiercest rival, current world 60m hurdles leader and reigning Olympic 110m hurdles bronze-medallist David Oliver.

“We have a strange relationship as we get on really well,” explains Turner.

“He’ll sometimes train with me at home when he’s over in the UK, though you can’t have friends when you step onto the track to race.”

In preparation for a tilt at the world championships in Daegu, South Korea this August, Turner plans to join Oliver at his Florida base in for three weeks in April before opening his 2011 outdoor season in Philadelphia and then in Jamaica.

“I’m looking forward to spending some good quality sessions with him,” Turner reveals.

“His biomechanics are much better – we’ve analysed videos of us both and he’s taking three-tenths of a second less over the hurdles so I’ve got a lot of improvements to make.”

It is this attention to detail and willingness to live in the lion’s den that could
see Turner as a new athlete a few months from now.


The Lloyd Cowan-coached athlete was cross-training through an Achilles problem and a prolapsed disc in his back twelve months ago and after a disappointing start to the indoor season, Turner has decided to again miss the European championships in Paris next month.

Following a solid 7.66 60m hurdles debut for the year behind Oliver in the Aviva International in Glasgow, the part-time fitness model sped to a 7.63 clocking in Stuttgart behind Oliver again then captured his seventh national title in 7.61 and a clocked a useful 20.90 200m personal-best at the European trials.

However, frustrated by his execution of a recently-learnt technique over the barriers, Turner announced his withdrawal from the continental event in which he finished fourth in the 2007 and 2009 editions.

“I’ve been working on a lot of different things in training this winter,” Turner explains.

“I’m happy with my start now but it’s frustrating not to get the rest of the race right. I’m focusing on other aspects of the race so much and it’s annoying.

I’m taking too long over the barriers so I’m not getting into my running quickly enough – it’s about really concentrating and it’s tricky trying to change something which has been engrained in you for over fifth-teen years, it’s not natural but I’m sure it will come.

My speed’s still there but I need to be running 7.50 really – this is a transition year for me really and we hope to see the main results next year.”


With a taste for success after last year’s achievements, Turner’s search for perfection will surely see him improve on the global stage six months from now since placing fifth in his heat from the 2009 world championships in Berlin.

After losing his funding status following two injury-plagued years, Turner spectacularly turned his form round in style last year.

A promising footballer with Notts County F.C, who was also offered a trial with England as a rugby player in his youth, Turner’s highlights included a world 200m hurdles record (22.30) at the Bupa Great Manchester CityGames in May, victory at the European Team championships in Norway in June and second place for Team Europe at the IAAF/VTB Continental Cup in Split last September.

His two major championship gold medals were of course, the most satisfying accolades and by clinching the European crown in 13.28 in Barcelona back in July, Turner jumped to third on the British all-time list before leading an England clean-sweep of the Commonwealth medals in Delhi three months later.

“2010 was a fantastic year,” reveals Turner.

“Barcelona was the main target and if I was still feeling ok, Delhi was too, so to achieve gold in both was an amazing feeling, unbelievable.

I feel I’ve got more self-belief now that I’ve shown I can produce my best when I need to – it’s a confidence-booster and I’m not scared of the best in the world on the start-line anymore.”


Indeed, Turner’s regular training stints with the crème de le crème of his specialist event prove a distinct lack of intimidation and his sacrifice to travel half-way across the globe is greater than most.

For back home in South London, his daughters – Jasmine, six and Carmen, four - with partner Natalie Gaynor, a former Great Britain 100m sprinter, feel his absence yet remain supportive of his quest for glory.

“It’s hard going away from the family all the time so using Skype’s just the best,” explains Turner.

“They (his daughters) love to watch daddy train and race and they love to run about.

The stadium is a massive playground for them with the track, sand and jump beds.
They love watching me on television and they’re picky about my medals – they only like gold.”

Evidently with the same impeccable taste, Turner is going all out to ensure that he continues to only bring the silverware of desired choice back home:

“This year, I’ve got to get my technique sorted and I want to be running consistently faster than last summer and to make the world final.
I’m thinking more of next year, as this year I’m just practising for 2012.

It’s the ultimate aim - it will be cool and to have my kids there will be special for me. The home crowd support will be brilliant and it will boost and benefit all the GB athletes.”

And who knows – perhaps the trip across the Pond will be just the start to creating an improved athlete whose journey may take him to home-turf glory when it matters most.

A True Cornish Fastie


In a bid to finally make her mark on the global scene, 800m runner Jemma Simpson is spending the winter Down Under in preparation for a busy two summers ahead, writes Nicola Bamford.

The 27-year-old had a varied 2010 campaign which saw her register two impressive lifetime bests but finish only fifth in the European championships, so in an effort to bridge the international gap this season, Simpson is currently training hard in the Australian heat.

Usually based in Oregon, USA, Simpson is joined by her partner, European 10,000m silver-medallist Chris Thompson during their southern-hemisphere adventure and is already feeling the benefits after two months in their new environment:

“We came to Australia to take advantage of the nice weather, allowing us to do some speed-work and take a break from our heavy winter programmes,” Simpson explains.

“Since being here, I have been combining tempo running with speed-work, track sessions and grass sessions and swimming.

I haven’t done any specific 800/1500m sessions yet, as I have been building up my fitness from my recent injury lay off.”

Guided by former Olympic 3,000m steeplechase bronze-medallist Mark Rowland, Simpson suffered a foot injury around Christmas but by her own admission, is back in shape:

“I did a great 1500m test session the other day and plan to race over the distance in Melbourne this week,” she reveals.

“I had another couple of races planned but they got cancelled due to the recent earthquake in New Zealand.”


An eight-time national champion over the two–lap distance, Simpson has been the reigning UK victor for the last four consecutive seasons yet she has also consistently finished as Britain’s number-two in both major championships and year rankings.

Sitting adrift of World and European bronze-medallist Jenny Meadows for the past two years, Simpson has struggled of late to emerge from her rival’s shadow in the big events.

Placing only fifth in the continental edition in Barcelona last July despite taking her latest domestic crown, Simpson’s frustration, though was at least dampened by her registering two lifetime bests earlier in the summer.

Recording times of 1:58.74 in Monaco and 4:06.39 in California, the St Mary’s University English graduate shot to seventh on the British all-time list for her specialist event to match her indoor all-time ranking with 2:01.25 from the 2008 season.

“2010 has mixed reviews for me,” Simpson explains.

“I moved into the 1.58 category which was a positive and I learnt a lot from my racing this season but championship wise, I really, really wanted to get a medal and was in a very strong position to obtain that but I missed out and was gutted.

However, it was my first championship final which is a step forward. My overall performance was good and I finished sixth in the world merit rankings and I also consistently ran low 1.59’s (on six occasions) which is a progression from 2009.”

On her competitive rivalry with Meadows and on competing in arguably the nation’s toughest female athletic discipline, she continues:

“Jenny and I get on well when we see each other - we have even shared a room before a competition.

When racing though, I want to beat everyone on the start-line.

The 800m and 1500m are really strong in the UK at the moment - we have some of the best performers in the world. It’s great for us as competitors and no-one can become complacent.

To be the best in Britain at the moment you have to be top 10 in the world as both Jenny Meadows and I have been in the past two years.”


Having finished only fifth in her semi-final at the 2009 World championships in Berlin and failing to progress beyond the heats of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Simpson is determined to make her mark this summer in a springboard to success for London 2012:

“My 2011 goal is to make the world championships final and hopefully medal there,” she reveals on her aims for the event in Daegu, South Korea in August.

And as the nation’s fifth-fastest 1500m performer last year, Simpson would also like to turn her attention to the metric mile – though, post-2012 of course:

“Long term, I plan to do the 800m in the Olympics then after that, start to have a crack at the 1500m and see how good I can be at that event,” she explains.

“It’s absolutely brilliant that the UK is hosting the Olympics - having a home-crowd advantage will be amazing and hopefully, there will be a real buzz for all the UK athletes.

To win a medal at these Olympics will carry a bigger thrill than any other medal I could win in my lifetime.

Chris and I have discussed the possibility of us both making it or the possibility of one of us not making it - it’s almost like we have two shots instead of one!”

One thing’s for sure, though - this Cornish ‘fastie’ will no longer be content with being overshadowed.

Wanting More Than a T-Shirt


With little over five-hundred days to go until the 2012 London Games, 400m man Martyn Rooney is making changes to ensure that his second Olympic appearance is even more outstanding as the first, writes Nicola Bamford.

At the Beijing Games three summers ago, Rooney sped to one of Team GB’s most pleasant surprises when placing sixth in the 400m final after clocking a scintillating 44.60 in the semi-final stage, which saw him leap to eighth on the British all-time list.

The one-lap-wonder from London went onto run a breath-taking 43.73 to anchor home the British squad to fourth in the 4x400m relay and now, at aged 23, Rooney is working hard to not only replicate such fine Olympic memories, but to also improve on them when he competes on home-turf next August.

A former European and World junior medallist, Rooney spent the beginning of the year with the Aviva/UK Athletics training camp and now back at his Loughborough University base, the 6ft5 quarter-miler is continuing his quest for world-class fitness.

Coached by Nick Dakin at the same High Performance Centre which will play host to Team GB in the build-up to the Games next summer, Rooney explains:

“I’ve been with Nick for six years now and we’ve made changes to really focus on 2012 to be really competitive – we’re thinking outside of the box.

Training’s going pretty well – this year, I’ve decided to really focus on my core strength to help me become a forty-three-second runner and not have to worry about injuries. I actually model myself on Phillips Idowu (the World triple-jump champion)’s strength and balance.

We’ve got a good group at Loughborough and we’re pushing each other well and there’s nothing like the standard of facilities there – it’s a great place to be especially as you’re surrounded by so many elite athletes.

Coming into the next two years, my focus has massively improved and it (2012) changes your attitude towards everything - it’s really important to me.”


Originally an 800m runner, Rooney enjoyed a strong 2010 campaign despite being plagued by a career-threatening injury.

Despite winning the Loughborough International, European Team Championships and UK Championships/European Trial, he registered a best of only 44.99 and ranked second in the country behind American-born Brit Michael Bingham.

The biggest disappointment, though of Rooney’s season was undoubtedly in the European Championships in Barcelona last July, where he collected only bronze behind silver-medal-winning Bingham before bouncing back to anchor the British team to 4x400m relay silver.

“I didn’t train very well last year, as I had to have an epidural in my hamstrings to save them then re-start my season in the mid-summer,” he reveals.

“I had a big tear but hopefully I’m over it now – I’ll always have problems due to my height and the event that I do but I give as much TLC as I can.

Although disappointing, Barcelona was a relief, though I felt I would have had a better opportunity to win a better medal if I’d had a different lane but I know that I can get in the mix and into the top three in the world this year.”

Having torn his quadriceps muscle in the summer of 2009 before reaching the World championship semi-final and capturing relay silver, Rooney already has vast experience of returning from adversity which stands him in good stead for an impressive forthcoming season.


The partner of British pole-vault record-holder Kate Dennison, Rooney will spend six weeks in Los Angeles this spring in preparation an outdoor season which will act as a vital springboard to success for the following year.

Targeting the World trials and UK Championships in Birmingham in July, the Loughborough University graduate also hopes to attract invites to as many IAAF Diamond League races around the globe as possible so he can face the world’s best before the global championships in Daegu, South Korea this August.

“I’d like to really compete in the World final and I aim to bring an individual and
relay medal home,” Rooney explains.

“This year, I’m in great shape so I’m quite excited going into 2011.”

Sure to be his fiercest domestic rival for the fourth-successive season, Bingham too will be looking to ruffle a few feathers on the world stage:

“The rivalry between myself and Bingham is great – we push each other and hopefully we can establish ourselves further,” reveals Rooney.

“He’s out in the Florida weather all the time but I have faith in my coach and what we’re doing is working for us. The standard in Britain’s improving so hopefully we’ll get more running sub-forty-five seconds this summer.”

As for the pressure and expectation surrounding the following, most important year in his athletic career to date, Rooney explains:
“Making the Olympic final was massive and really emotional so London will be even bigger.

2012’s massive – I’ve made big changes to be at my peak but I’ll leave the pressure to Jess (World heptathlon champion) and Phillips – I just hope to sneak in the back door and pick up a medal.

It’s all about medals - I’m not going just to get the t-shirt.”

On the B-Rim of Success


After clinching his first senior international medal and running the fastest time by a Brit in almost two decades, 800m runner Michael Rimmer is confident that 2011 is the year when he will finally make it on to the global rostrum, writes Nicola Bamford.

The 25-year-old enjoyed an impressive 2010 campaign which began with a four-second 1500m 3:41.1 personal best before creating history by claiming a fifth straight UK outdoor title and capturing European championship silver in Barcelona in July.

Though many athletes would have been ecstatic with such achievements, Rimmer was hugely disappointed to miss out on the continental crown but his frustration turned to elation a month later when he recorded Britain’s fastest two-lap time for seventeen years with a scintillating 1:43.69 in Rieti, Italy:

“2010 was up and down - I trained hard last but held back a bit for this year,” explains Rimmer.

“The European’s were gutting as I really wanted gold but I was pleased to come back for a big PB especially after hurting the back of my knee in Crystal Palace in mid-August. I was lucky to hang on to my form and it showed what could have been – it’s given me a lot of confidence for 2011.

The time was massive and it was imperative that I ran it to move forwards – it puts me in the top world elite bracket which will help me get into any races around the world but if I want medals, I still need to run quicker.”


A former seven-time national junior champion, Rimmer has been Britain’s best senior for the past four seasons yet only just sneaked into the world’s top-ten last summer.

Although now sitting in sixth on the national all-time list and evidently still improving, the former part-time DJ is well-aware of his need to step up a final notch in order to reach the calibre of potential global medallist and he will be tested in full-force at the World championships in Daegu, South Korea this August:

“The minimum goal is to get to the final,” he reveals.

“In the past I’ve not managed to string together three good rounds but I did in the European’s and I’m working on my psychology to make sure I run good races – a medal’s the priority.

If I want to medal in the Olympics, I’ll need a minimum of 1:42 and that’s my aim this year so if the opportunity arises to race the likes of David Rudisha (the world record-holder from Kenya with 1:41.01) and Abubaker Kaki (two-time world indoor champ from Sudan) I’ll take it.”


Coached by Norman Poole at his Manchester base and training alongside World 1500m finalist Tom Lancashire and European junior 800m silver-medallist Niall Brooks,
Rimmer is working hard to quash the critics’ view that British middle-distance running will never return to the eighties glory days when the likes of Coe, Ovett and Cram ruled the world:

Training two to three times a day, the half-mile specialist occasionally runs as much as 60-70 miles per week and refuses to jet off to sunnier climes like the majority of Team GB in search for perfection:

“I definitely feel in the best shape I’ve ever been and hopefully this bodes well for the summer,” Rimmer explains.

“Fingers crossed, I can start the season in one piece and run some really fast times.

I’ve been doing a lot of gym and endurance work this winter and don’t feel the need to go away – I just like to crack on at home and get stuck into the British weather.

I’m still improving so we like to stick to what we know works.

It’s pretty tough but I’m training smart and it’s taken four years to build up to this level. We do two weeks hard, one week easy and will then reduce the quantity in the spring.”


It is usually in the spring-time when the Liverpool runner begins to struggle with asthma and hay fever, which can seriously hinder his performances if not managed efficiently but fortunately for Rimmer, he often wears his trade-mark lucky white t-shirt under his vest in competitions.

Eager to banish the ghosts of the 2008 and 2009 seasons where he faulted on the global stage through illness and injury, Rimmer is in positive mood ahead of the forthcoming season:

“I’m itching to race and test myself. I’ll do a couple of low-key 1500m races in April to keep my endurance going as the World’s are so late then do the IAAF Diamond League in Doha in May to try to get the qualifying time out of the way as soon as
possible,” he reveals.

“I may even do the 400m or 1500m at the World trials and UK championships but I like the thought of setting an even tougher record of 800m wins there.”

A semi-finalist in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2009 World championships, having lost half a stone in weight through food-poisoning in China and returning from injury in the latter event, Rimmer has an additional aim aside from this summer’s global event:

“The British record (of 1:41.73 held by two-time Olympic champion Sebastian Coe)’s been there far too long – it’s due to be re-written and I’d like to be the man that does that,” he explains.

Although an important long-term aim, Rimmer’s key priority in the forthcoming seasons in understandably the Olympic Games in London next summer in a stadium where he hopes to be lucky enough to sample before the opening ceremony:

“I’ve been told I might be able to train in the new Olympic stadium three or four times in the build-up to the Games,” reveals Rimmer.

“I hope to make it feel like a home from home, learning more about the call-up areas etc.

I definitely want to make the final in 2012 and if everything goes well, I should be at my peak and hopefully get onto the rostrum.”

Having evidently served his athletic apprenticeship, Rimmer may just be about to graduate in fine style - and in perfect time for the spectacular home party next summer, too.

The Purf-ect Speedy Student


This time last year, she was sidelined with a stress fracture to the knee but in the past few months long-distance starlet Charlotte Purdue has bounced back to faster than ever before and now lies on the cusp of international glory in her debut season as a senior, writes Nicola Bamford.

The diminutive 19-year-old spent much of last winter rehabilitating in the gym and pool and after only opening her season in June, subsequently had to miss the World junior championships, where she would have been a solid bet for a medal in the 5,000m.

Refusing to become despondent, however, the London-based runner sped back to lifetime-best shape after only six races on the track and stormed into the record books with a scintillating 32:36.75 British under20 10,000m record in Tipton in August to seal her selection for the Commonwealth Games in India.

For good measure and to more than make up for lost time, Purdue also obliterated her 3,000m and 5,000m personal-bests with 9:10.34 and 15:23.4, respectively - going to the number-two spot on the all-time lists for the latter.

But it was in Delhi with Team England, where Purdue – fresh from a 33.06 10km road best in Sheffield – impressed on her senior major championship debut by placing an outstanding fourth in the 10,000m and fifth in the 5,000m.

Having passed and thrived off her first taste of an international event at senior level with flying colours, the countdown to 2012 suddenly appeared more than just an Olympic dream.


In a new season, on a different terrain, the bubbly Purdue has started her 2010/11 winter campaign where she left off – with a bang.

Capturing her first European junior cross-country crown in Portugal last December – after claiming silver and bronze in previous attempts – she progressed to take fourth amongst a world-class senior field at the Bupa Great Edinburgh international and was a clear winner of the McCain UK Cross Challenge Cardiff and Antrim legs last month.

Now, as she looks ahead to claiming her first British university title, Purdue – who has amassed an impressive twenty national medals over the past five years through the age groups – will aim to take the English national and British crowns as she steps up into the senior ranks before attempting to achieve her ambitious goals in the global championships.

“Training’s going really well – it’s all geared towards the World cross-country championships (in Spain on the 20th of March),” Purdue explained.

“I’d like to be first Brit there and have a top twenty-five finish. It’ll be a challenge but I’m looking forward to it and after the World’s, I’ll have a break and go to New York to take it easy for a few weeks.”

Heading across the Pond for some relaxation and a spot of shopping is a regular occurrence for the Nike-sponsored athlete. With her partner, Ben Lindsay – fourth in the 2008 European under23 cross-country championships – studying at Iona College in the city, Purdue enjoys making good use of her time away from competition:

“It was hard being so far apart at first but we talk via Skype every day and he follows my running,” Purdue revealed. “I always look forward to going over there for visits.”


But before her next scheduled break in seven weeks’ time, the second-year St Mary’s university history student must stay focused on producing her next eye-catching performance.

Guided by Woods – the man who has steered a production line of prodigiously-talented athletes to international success in the past decade – Purdue juggles her studies with a heavy training workload and praises both working environments:

“The group’s success is all down to Mick. He’s coached me since aged eleven and I owe everything I’ve achieved to him,” she explained.

“We have a really nice friendship and the group are all really good friends - we all really push each other on. Steph (Twell, the 21-year-old Commonwealth 1500m bronze-medallist and her main training partner) and I are on different pathways as she’s doing the 1500m but I treat her the same as everyone else in a race.”

On combining sport with her academics in a year in which her big aim for the summer is making the GB squad for the World championships in Daegu, South Korea in late August/early September, Purdue continued:

“I don’t have too many hours of lectures as it’s more the hours of reading that are tough, but it’s manageable – reading isn’t strenuous on the body around training is it.”

Training around the university grounds and living on campus certainly helps keep her routine as relaxed as possible and Purdue is keen to thank the support she receives there:

“I have all of my sports science support and my massage (which is paid by 2004 double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes) there, as well.

I’m really grateful for her help as my mentor as well – we see each other a lot. The funding is a big help, too like when I had my knee injury – I didn’t have to worry about medical help as it was all provided.”

With aspirations to become a full-time athlete after her final-year exams in May next year – two months before the London Olympic Games - Purdue’s timing could not be better:

“It’s really, really good that the Olympics are coming to London as not only will it be great for family and friends to go watch, but also the atmosphere will be amazing and everything will be to our advantage,” she revealed.

“It’s a great opportunity and I’d love to be a part of it. My aim would be to do the 10,000m there but maybe the 5,000m, too.

It’s so exciting and I’m not daunted at all by it, I just really want to be there. I don’t think about it loads, I just focus on the next event and take every season as it comes – it’s not good if you think about something too much.”

With plenty to keep her busy in the meantime, the next seventeen months will surely fly by for this busy student, who seems destined to enjoy an exceptional post-degree celebration on the track next summer.

A 'Pocket Rocket' to 2012


With four medals from the past four major championships, 800m supremo Jenny Meadows has set her sights on capturing her first international gold this summer, with a view to further glory in 2012, writes Nicola Bamford.

Just a fortnight ago, the 29-year-old claimed European indoor silver to add to her impressive silverware collection which boasts global indoor silver, continental outdoor bronze and world outdoor bronze from the past two years alone.

In Paris earlier this month, Meadows ended her mixed indoor season with her latest medal after finishing a disappointing fifth in the UK 400m championship, bouncing back to a 1:59.22 season’s best in Birmingham and ahead of anchoring Team GB to the 4x400m silver medals in France just over an hour after the 800m final.

Although her achievements have been most promising since her breakthrough into world-class at the 2009 World championship event – registering 1:57.93 to go to third on the British all-time list - the ‘pocket rocket’ middle-distance runner still aches for gold:

“I am definitely one of the most consistent members of the British athletics team but I was hoping for gold and it was not meant to be,” Meadows explains.

The British number-one for the past three seasons, Meadows’ tough self-assessment derives from enjoying a successful yet injury-plagued 2010, where she recorded a national indoor record of 1:58.43 and claimed World indoor silver in Doha, Qatar.

“2010 started so well with two national indoor records and the silver but then I picked up an Achilles injury that was to last the entire outdoor season,” the eight-time national winner reveals.

“At one point, I thought that I would not be able to compete at the European Championships in Barcelona but thankfully my physio's got me to the line and I was delighted at the time to win a bronze medal.”

Indeed, Meadows was forced to miss the final of the continental trials and UK Championships but bounced back after Spain to finish fourth for Team Europe in the IAAF VTB Continental Cup in Split, Croatia to end a frustrating year.


Coached by her husband Trevor Painter and based in Wigan and Manchester for training, Meadows has, despite the collection of near-misses to the top spot, come a long way since her days in the one-lap event.

Still an established member of the relay squad today, Meadows started out as an international 400m athlete with a best of 52.50 from the 2005 season, which places her as thirteenth on the UK all-time indoor marks.

Further still, she took the national indoor crown in 2003 and scorched to a 51.64 relay leg in 2006 before switching her full focus to the longer event and with greater success despite the high-level of domestic competition:
“The women's 800m is always competitive domestically in the UK,” Meadows explains.

“It can only be healthy for the sport and the athletes alike.”

Having previously worked as Manchester Lesiure’s head athletics coach before turning full-time as an athlete, Meadows is keen to praise the support of her husband in guiding her to her current status:

“Trevor is a fundamental link in my support network - his role is so diverse and he always manages to do it with passion and a smile on his face!” she reveals.


At present, they have good reason to smile, too, for Meadows should find herself in a strong position to fight for that illusive gold medal at this summer’s World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.

Eager to improve on her silver two years ago, the intention is to use 2011 as a springboard to greater success in 2012 and after failing to reach the Olympic final in Beijing 2008, Meadows has extra impetus to succeed in the London Games seventeen months from now.

“The next few years will be my last in the sport so I hope that I can continue to win as many championship medals that are on offer,” explains Meadows, who will open her outdoor campaign in Shanghai in May.

“(After my career) I would like to go into a sports-related media role, as I studied media and English at college and university.”

An interesting choice, as Meadows should indeed have plenty to talk about on a career which will hopefully finish on a golden note.

Finding His Niche


Coming off the back of his debut season as a 400m hurdler, David Hughes finds himself in the surprising role of potential 2012 Olympic contender and rather than feeling the pressure, he is taking the excitement all in his stride, writes Nicola Bamford.

The 26-year-old enjoyed a stellar 2010 campaign after switching from his first love, the 110m hurdles and achieved his three targets for the season – a sub-50-second performance, reaching the Commonwealth Games final and being re-instated on the world-class funding programme with UK Athletics.

Indeed, not content enough with reaching these ambitious goals, Hughes surpassed the illusive mark on three occasions and improved his personal-best time by almost three seconds in the space of ten weeks during the summer - catapulting him to third in the UK rankings in his first full season in the event.

Such a staggering improvement and promising debut season were all the more impressive considering he had spent the past three years on the injury sidelines before switching events, but Hughes was always confident he would make an impact once his health was intact:

“Fortunately, my body’s in one piece, which is the main goal in order to run quick,” he explained.

“Training’s going very well. I’ve spent the winter trying to hurdle with my left leg as using only my right was causing some trouble last year and we had no time to work on it. I lost races because of it but it’s now going well now and will make a big difference this summer.”


If his predictions for a big improvement prove correct then Hughes’ rivals will certainly have to start watching their backs this summer, especially considering the impact he made last year off only six months training.

The risky choice to move to the longer barriers fortunately paid off for Hughes, as the less-explosive event has kept his injury woes at bay and in only his second race, he took the British Inter-Counties title in Bedford last May.

Refreshed for a new challenge and in good health, the former European under23 110m hurdles champion progressed to take the English title the following month before placing fifth in the UK championships and registered a swift 49.58 life-time best in Switzerland in July to place twenty-first on the British all-time list.

“Last year was a blur, as I didn’t really know the event so I now want to really stamp my authority on it and be right on the heels of the two Welsh boys,” Hughes revealed.

The Welsh duo in question are Dai Greene and Rhys Williams – the top two from July’s European championships and gold and bronze-medallists from the Commonwealth event in Delhi last October – the same race where Hughes finished eighth.

“I have my wedding (in Florence in September) to pay for so I jokingly asked Rhys if he could let me win a couple of big races to help me pay for it,” Hughes explained.

“I’ve actually done most of the organising myself.”


Most elite athletes would not have the time to arrange such an important occasion, let alone a celebration abroad but Hughes is happy to combine training with part-time work and such distractions in order to maintain a balanced lifestyle.

Running his sports performance store, body2win in the East Midlands town of Loughborough, Hughes works three days per week, despite being funded by UK Sport in addition to training at the National Performance Centre nearby.

Coached by his brother Steve, Hughes revealed:

“I’m under pressure to become a full-time athlete but I enjoy having off-track interests.

The business did exceptionally well last year in our first year and we hope to maintain this with the same level of effort this year, before pushing on again after 2012. I’d never want to be a full-time athlete.”
Whist the majority of Team GB are training in sunnier climes, Hughes continued:

“I’ve never been one for going warm-weather training. I don’t travel well or deal with the heat and Loughborough’s got the best sports science support and facilities in the world so why would I leave?

I like to say a big thanks to UK Sport for the funding – we have the best support system in the world. I did really well without any support last year so I’m just accepting it rather than letting it dictate my performances.”


After finishing his season in October in India, Hughes has decided to bypass the current indoor season and expects to begin his outdoor campaign in early May, with high expectations from the outset:

“I can’t wait to get out and race,” he explained.

“My aims are to get under 49-seconds as soon as possible and to make the World championships (in Daegu, South Korea in August). I want to cause some damage and push for the semi’s and the final.

As I’ve come from a sprint background with no 400m training, I surprised a lot of my rivals last year and I hope to really worry them again this summer.”

With his event having great strength in depth, Hughes will find himself among a large crop of talented British athletes vying for national vests and no more so than in London 2012 – the biggest goal of his athletic career.

“I would be proud to make 2012 and I would be working full-time unless I thought I couldn’t make a living as a professional athlete and make the Olympic final,” Hughes revealed.

“I enjoy the excitement and tension surrounding it – there’s no pressure on me as I have my own goals and I’m quite a confident person despite being modest. I just like to keep my head down and keep myself to myself – I learnt that lesson when I was in the 110m hurdles, thinking I was a big shot.

The main thing is to remain level-headed and not get overwhelmed. It helps being surrounded by a strong support network and having a stable home-life – we’ve just bought a house to get away from the pressure near the track. Being in comfortable surroundings is key for me.”

Although it is still early days, judging by his potential, more fireworks should be expected from Hughes this summer now that his apprenticeship has been served en route to a timely Olympic debut over the event which it has taken him eight long years to find.

Greene to Go


Having firmly established himself in the past year as a hot contender for 400m hurdles glory in 2012, Dai Greene is in confident mood as he looks ahead to the summer where he hopes to gain the official world number-one tag, writes Nicola Bamford.

Taking European and Commonwealth gold in 2010, the 24-year-old made a major impact on the global scene and now the Welsh wonder intends to use this year’s campaign as a launch-pad to realising his Olympic dream in London next year.

After closing in on Kriss Akabussi’s 18-year-old 47.82 British record with a scintillating 47.88 mark whilst claiming the IAAF/VTB World Cup in Split, Greene not only took the scalp of World-leader Bershawn Jackson but he also went to a promising sixth on the global rankings for the season.

Such a performance was all the more impressive considering it was only Greene’s second year as a consistent international performer, but after capturing the continental (48.12) and Commonwealth (48.52) crowns in Barcelona and Delhi, respectively, he was inevitably on a roll – and fortunately, still is:

“I started back in training in November and it’s been going very well,” Greene explained.

“I went out to South Africa with the UKA camp and it’s still going well. My fitness feels ahead of this time last year so I’m very happy and I’m enjoying training.

We’ve been making some changes to raise my heart-rate more by using fartleks, which are increasing my early-year fitness and speed – I’m now more competent over the barriers.”


Training in Bath under the tutelage of coaching legend Malcolm Arnold, Greene is indeed a different athlete to the man who failed to make the 2008 Team GB Olympic squad and it will be unnerving for his rivals to hear that there are still tweaks to be made to his armour even following an imposing 2010.

A ten-time national medallist over the years, Greene is a perfectionist who will be more than keen to improve on seventh from his last World championship appearance when he lines up in Daegu, South Korea later this August.

Although he lost his fierce rival, European silver-medallist Rhys Williams to the group in the autumn, Greene is fortunate to have a plethora of talented stable-mates to work out with, including Jack Green (5th in the 2010 World junior 400m hurdles final), Tasha Danvers (2008 Olympic 400m hurdles bronze), Eilidh Child (2010 Commonwealth 400m hurdles silver), Jack Meredith (2010 World junior 110m hurdles bronze), Andrew Pozzi (2010 England indoor under20 60m hurdles gold) and Lawrence Clarke (2010 Commonwealth 110m hurdles bronze).

“It was disappointing to see Rhys go, as he was great to train with and worked hard,” Greene revealed.

“I’m never the best in the group in training apart from running to hurdle ten - I enjoyed being pushed by him and wish him all the best.

It’s a good atmosphere and a really good training environment – Malcolm’s very happy with the quality of the group.”

Having been part of the set-up since 2009, the former European under23 champion is full of praise for the man who has steered him to unprecedented success in such a short space of time:

“We’ve learnt a lot about each other – he keeps me honest and is a very good person to have around,” he explained.

“We trust each other and decisions are 50/50, though I normally get my own way
especially after our success in the last eighteen months.”

Confident of Gold

A player for Swansea City FC in his youth, Greene is knuckling down to hard graft in the UK before heading for Italy in May for a spell of warm-weather training.

Ahead of opening his eagerly-anticipated outdoor campaign, the modest athlete believes such a trip is key to building his confidence and performance level before his first appearance of the summer at the Loughborough international in late May:

“The aim is to be running a lot faster, a lot earlier this year and hold my form to the World’s,” Greene revealed.

“I’ll do a 4x400m relay leg in Loughborough and do the European Team championships (in Stockholm in June) and the UK championships/World trials (in Birmingham in July).

“I want to do as many IAAF Diamond Leagues as possible in 2011, as I need to be involved to lower my times against world-class opposition. The time I ran in Split will be needed to win the World’s.

Taking gold gets me through training every day – I know I have the potential. If I don’t win but give my best performance, then fine, I can’t be disappointed but I really want to win, not just get a medal.”

With a packed competitive season ahead, Greene is keen to recognise the support he receives from UK Sport and Athletics:

“If I have a problem, I can always see the doctor or physiotherapist etc straight away so funding’s a big help,” he explained.

It’s nice to know the support’s there when it’s needed. I’m sure I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.”

And where he is now is right in the driving seat of a journey headed straight for London 2012, a venue - judging by his current form and rate of progression - which could reward him with a very welcome golden prize.

“It’s great we’re having the Olympics,” Greene revealed.

“It’s good to inspire the children and it’s the greatest thing as an athlete to run at home.

I’m a very laid-back character and after having lived to expectations (to win gold) twice last year, I’m more confident – two traits which go well together and which will help me deal with the situation.

I’m aiming for gold, there’s no reason why I can’t – I’ll be at my prime age so everything bodes well.”

No Mo Mr Nice Guy


He is known world-wide for his smiling, mischievous demeanour but after a record-breaking year, Mo Farah is set to ensure 2011 is all about serious business, as he keeps his eyes firmly set on reaching the Olympic podium next summer, writes Nicola Bamford.

The 27-year-old from Somalian descent moved to England back in 1993 and broke through on to the senior international stage in 2006 with European 5,000m silver.

Fast-forward five years and ‘FlyMo’ - as he is affectionately known in athletic circles - is one of Team GB’s key faces for glory in the 2012 Olympic Games in his hometown, courtesy of the finest season of his career so far.

Although mystery surrounds the identity of his coach at present, it is no secret that the West-Londoner enjoyed an extraordinary track campaign to add to his impressive athletic CV.

Taking European championship 5,000m and 10,000m gold in Barcelona last July, he then broke the long-standing British 5,000m record with 12:57.94 at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Zurich to cement his credentials in a breathtaking display of guts and determination.

It was these victories and the sub-thirteen-minute performance which established Farah as a medal contender for future major championships and such form stands him in promising stead for his biggest aim next summer.


Advised by Ricky Simms, Farah is currently training hard in the United States after placing a close runner-up in a world-class field in the New Balance Boston indoor grand prix.

Registering a time of 7:35.81 to finish only a second away from his personal best,
Farah’s performance followed an impressive victory at the Bupa Great Edinburgh cross-country international last month.

A six-time UK champion over cross-country, 1500m and 3,000m and indoors and out, Farah is content with his current form:

“I'm feeling in good shape at the moment following a few good results after a long training stint in Kenya during November and December,” he explained.

“Last year was a very good year for me so I'm keen to build on that and produce even better results this year.”

With his confidence and fitness sky high, Farah is evidently rounding into an athlete who truly believes that he can achieve anything he sets his sights on.

Next up on the agenda will be the IAAF Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham on February 19
th, where Farah will be going for the UK 5,000m indoor record of 13:21.27.

The Adidas man is confident that he can surpass the mark and holds positive memories of the venue after breaking the British 3,000m record with 7:34.47 last year.

The key aim of the winter though, is the defence of his 3,000m title at the European indoor championships in Paris in early March and with six continental indoor and outdoor medals to his name, Farah is a hot bet for glory.


Also the national record-holder for 5km on the road (with 13:30 from 2006), Farah is proud to lead a resurgence of British men’s distance running over the past year.

Alongside European 10,000m silver-medallist Chris Thompson, the duo has ignited an upsurge in form and belief in recent months but Farah should not be too concerned for his number-one status just yet:

“There are lots of strong distance runners in Britain at the moment and with more youngsters coming through, it would be great if we could repeat some of the performances from the days when Cram, Coe and Ovett were competing,” he revealed.

With the aim of improving on his previous two results of sixth and seventh, respectively, from the World outdoor championships, Farah could break into the medals in Daegu, South Korea this July judging by his current form.

In his quest to be the best runner in the world, Farah praises the support of his young family amidst the constant travelling away:

“My family are very important to me and I would love to spend all of my time with them although as a long-distance athlete I have to spend a lot of time away from home,” he explained.

“It makes the time we spend together and the successes more worth the sacrifice.”

Fortunately, the sacrifices have paid off ten-fold in recent months and as Farah builds towards Olympic glory – after finishing only sixth in his 5,000m heat in the 2008 Beijing Games – he finds himself in a privileged position as one to beat.

“I'd like to retire one day knowing I've had a successful career and spend the rest of my time with my family, enjoying a relaxed life,” Farah revealed.

So don’t let the smile fool you – this outgoing athlete hides an intense desire to succeed and while he’s on such an eye-catching a roll, you probably shouldn’t bet against him especially on home turf next summer.

Woman on a Mission


After agonisingly missing out on the world 1500m title two years ago, Lisa Dobriskey has made some key changes to ensure that she goes one better in the global championships later this summer, writes Nicola Bamford.

This winter, the 27-year-old has followed doctors’ orders by training through the indoor racing season and in a surprising twist, has also split from her long-term coach to be guided by her husband.

Although an amicable split - with former mentor George Gandy still acting as her adviser, Dobriskey is now guided by the man she married fifteen months ago – 2004 Olympic 800m semi-finalist Ricky Soos.

Based at the Loughborough University High Performance Centre, the duo are sticking to the same formula which took Dobriskey to world silver in 2009 and are content with the new set-up:

“Ricky’s had a big impact on my training for the past couple of years anyway and we’ll be absolutely fine,” she explains.

“We’ll follow a similar plan. I’m really excited as I’m progressing well – I always
used to struggle this time of year but I’m still being quite cautious.”


It is highly understandable that Britain’s top metric miler for the past three seasons is wary, for barely a season goes by without an injury rearing its ugly head and at the most inappropriate of times.

The latest in a long line of well-documented issues was a problem with her left hip – striking only five days after a promising 2:00.14 800m lifetime best in London last August, whilst racing in Zurich.

There, in the IAAF Diamond League race, Dobriskey not only lost a shoe but also the chance to compete in the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October – the event which she won in 2006 to cement her breakthrough on the senior international stage.

However, following yet another winter of rehabilitation and a training camp in South Africa, the eleven-time national 800m-3,000m champion is back to running pain-free:

“Training’s going really well. Missing the indoors was really hard as I really enjoying it but I’m being sensible,” Dobriskey reveals.

“I’m so fragile in the lower-back area and I pushed too far last year so I had the problems for quite a long time afterwards.

Consistency’s the key for 2012. I’ve built up my winter slowly and I’ve been on the rise again since Christmas. I’ve done a lot of base and technical work to improve my biomechanics to stay away from injury.”


Following a slightly below-par 2010 campaign, it is imperative for the nation’s number-two all-time runner to establish herself again on the world scene this summer if she has any chance of glory in the London Olympics come 2012.

With a year’s best of 3:59.79 from Paris last July, Dobriskey was hotly tipped for a continental victory at the European Championships a fortnight later but running a tactically poor race in the final, she finished a disappointing fourth in 4:01.54.

The frustration also followed only a third place-finish in the UK championships a month earlier, leaving the Loughborough University graduate despondent:

“Overall, 2010 was so disappointing,” Dobriskey explains.

“I should have done better in everything but ended up in a massive panic with the injuries so it was a disaster, especially after having high hopes but I’ve learnt about tactics and other things to work on.”


As the famous saying goes ‘what doesn’t hurt you, will make you stronger’ and it is this mindset that Dobriskey has taken on ahead of her attempt at returning to world-class status this summer.

With a personal best of 3:59.50 from the 2009 season, she has her sights set on double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes’ seven-year-old British record of 3:57.90 but first, the priority is on gaining revenge at the World Championship event in
Daegu, South Korea:

“Obviously, the World’s is very important to me, especially after missing out on
gold by just 1/100th of a second last time,” reveals Dobriskey.

“I really want to progress after a year of injury. I’ve done 3:59 a few times and I feel I need to do that more and go quicker to bridge the gap, that’s my goal.

I need to go one better and win the title by raising my game to reach my potential.
I’ve been too cautious and a little negative in the past so I’ve changed that this year.”

Returning for another training stint in South Africa in May, Dobriskey intends to open her season with a couple of low-key 1500m races before tackling the Rome leg of the IAAF Diamond League in May.

“Even the (World) trials are very competitive,” she explains on the topic of July’s UK Championships.

“It’s so good to be part of such a strong contingent of athletes in this country. It’s tough but it prepares you for the world stage.”

Not only eager to upgrade her global silver from Berlin two years ago, Dobriskey is additionally even more determined to improve on her fourth place from the 2008 Beijing Olympics when she takes to London’s new Olympic stadium next August:

“It’s really exciting and after finishing fourth last time, I really want to at
least get a medal – you have to use the home advantage,” she reveals.

“The Olympics is so special being on home soil but it’s scary too, dealing with the pressure – people like to hang the medal around your neck before you’re even there but I can cope with that through past experience.”

And should she manage to string together a few months of trouble-free training, then this bubbly athlete may well get the redemption she has been waiting years for.

Seeking Pole Position


After comfortably holding onto the UK number-one spot for the past five years, Kate Dennison is making changes following a below-par indoor season which saw the pole-vaulter pushed down the national pecking order, writes Nicola Bamford.

In a rare blip for her performances on the British scene, Dennison’s 2011 campaign was short and certainly not so sweet, following a best of only 4.26m – over half a metre short of her best mark.

Having competed on only three occasions, the 26-year-old not only lost her national indoor title for first time in five years but also the UK number-one tag to World junior bronze-medallist Holly Bleasdale – a promising young pretender to the long-term domestic crown.

Having returned from a long training spell in South Africa, the country of her birth, over the Christmas and New Year period, Dennison appears a shadow of her former self but fortunately, she can pinpoint as to the reasons why:

“I’ve been changing a few things technically this year, which takes time but it is starting to come together,” the former gymnast explains.

“Obviously, working with a new coach too takes time, but we are both learning how each other work.”

Having hooked up with Scott Simpson at her Loughborough University base last autumn and following a summer of several coaching switches, Dennison is content with her mentor at last.


The partner of Olympic 400m finalist Martyn Rooney, Dennison is eager to return to her 2009 form which saw her break the British record an incredible thirteen times.

The current national indoor and outdoor record-holder with a leap of 4.60m, suffered a turbulent outdoor season last summer, evidently caused in part by the unstable guidance in her training camp.

A psychology graduate from Staffordshire University, Dennison endured much heartache in a year which began in promising fashion.

Having taken her fifth consecutive national indoor title with 4.40m, she went on to record her British best before failing to qualify for the final of the World indoor Championships in Doha, Qatar and the problems rolled on from there.

In the summer, Dennison managed only seventh in the European Team Championships (with 4.20m) and despite winning her fourth straight UK outdoor crown (with 4.45m), disappointed in both major championships of the season – placing sixth and third, respectively in the European Championships and Commonwealth Games.

2010 was ‘solid’ but she ‘wanted more’ after leaping 4.55m in the continental event in Barcelona and giving away the gold medal in Delhi with 4.25m after being tipped as the pre-competition favourite.


Although understandably frustrated with the past two seasons, Dennison remains confident and upbeat ahead of the important 2011 outdoor campaign.

Keen to hone the new skills she has been working hard on through the winter, the six-time national junior champion and nine-time senior champion is determined to approach the summer season as a new, improved athlete:

“Training is going well with the focus on the summer this year and with the World champs late August,” she reveals on her main goal of the year, the global event in Daegu, South Korea.

“I want top-five but will hopefully be jumping the same heights that can get me a medal.”

Eager to progress from sixth place from the 2009 Berlin edition, Dennison is even more determined to improve for when it matters most – in the Olympic Games in London next summer.

Failing to go beyond the qualifying round in Beijing in 2008, Dennison simply insists that a medal is the key priority and if patience is a virtue, then this certainly is her best asset in the pressure-filled build-up.

And hoping her current training re-vamp pays off sooner rather than later, Dennison may well manage to return to not only domestic supremacy but also a world-class level in time for her Olympic test.

Chasing Glory


She was tragically forced to relinquish her place in the Beijing Games four years ago through injury but now, Britain’s top steeplechaser Hatti Dean is on course to realise – and make an impact on - her Olympic dream in London next summer, writes Nicola Bamford.

The 29-year-old had the season of her career last year when, after two years out of her specialist event, she caused the biggest surprise of Team GB’s fortnight at the European championships in Barcelona by finishing fourth in a lifetime best of 9:30.19.

Such a remarkable performance for the Sheffield-based runner was all the more impressive, as Dean not only carved an astonishing eight seconds off her best time but also crossed the finish-line within a second of the British record.

Her 2010 campaign was topped off with seventh position for Europe in the IAAF/VTB World Cup in Split last September before placing seventh again and top British woman in the European cross-country championships in Portugal at the end of the year.

Eager to further progress from her breakthrough year, Dean has just returned from a month-long spell in Kenya on a UK Athletics endurance camp and is already feeling the benefits:

“Kenya was really good – we had a really nice group of athletes and a great atmosphere,” Dean explained.

“I think I adapted quicker to the altitude this time after going before in October.

I got some good mileage and sessions in, and got the work done in such a hard environment – it was great having the time to do all the little things as a full-time athlete.

We’d always run at sunrise which was beautiful and very warm even at that time, then have breakfast, go to the gym, have lunch and relax. In the afternoons, we’d do a harder session – it was mostly eat, sleep, train.”


Having finished a respectable fifth in a world-class field in the Bupa Great Edinburgh cross-country international at the turn of the year, Dean is targeting the English and British national crowns before an attempt at the global edition.

The English champion in 2009, Dean revealed:

“I’d like at least a medal in both but my aim’s to win them. If I make the World’s (in Spain in March) then I’d like top twenty-five.”

Guided by Bud Baldaro in frequent visits to his Birmingham base, Dean finished fifteenth in the 2007 event in the season in which she broke the national 3,000m steeplechase record three times in the build-up to the World championship final - which in turn, she agonisingly missed by less than a second.

This time around, the former England junior lacrosse player is determined to make the final cut:

“My aim for 2011 is to run sub-9:25 and to make the final of the World’s,” Dean explained.

“I also want to get my flat times down for the 1500m and 3,000m (currently 4:16.57 and 8:58.77).”


Despite being on UK Sport funding, Dean works part-time as statistician for the civil service and is seeking additional sponsorship to the help she currently receives from sportswear company Puma.

A master’s graduate of Sheffield Hallam University, she is aware of the pressures to become a full-time athlete but also to remain sensible away from the sole focus of her sporting ambitions.

After all, there is no guarantee for any athlete with dreams of making the Olympics so Dean is keen to give the pressure off in case the disaster of China repeats itself:

“I want to make the final but I don’t want to get too carried away,” she revealed.

“I know I’ve got a lot more progressing to do as I’m still not full-time and I’ve only been to high-altitude twice.”
Praising the provision of sports psychologists and media training in the countdown to the big event, Dean continued:

“The atmosphere in Barcelona was amazing so to have a home crowd would be awesome and really inspiring and motivating - but also nerve-wracking.

I feel I’m getting fitter all the time and there are still improvements to be made – it’s quite exciting to see how much better I can get.”

Back to Square One


On top of the world after claiming Olympic bronze three summers ago, 400m hurdler Tasha Danvers is currently trying to salvage her career in time for London 2012, after surgery and two years virtually out of the sport, writes Nicola Bamford.

The 33-year-old shot to second on the British all-time list with a 53.84 clocking in the 2008 Beijing Games but the following two years were plagued with career-threatening injuries to her Achilles.

Competing in the occasional 800m race and achieving a best of only 55.19 in the 2009 season, Danvers also suffered from hamstring issues and the breakdown of her marriage to her former coach Darrell Smith as well.

Racing only once in 2010 when clocking 56.44 in France, the mother-of-one still managed to climb to third on the British rankings for the year but injury struck again, this time resulting in surgery.

“Training’s not too bad - I’m getting back from my Achilles surgery last winter,” Danvers explains.

“I’ve done a lot of rehab but I’m sprinting in moderation at the moment. I want to do whatever’s sensible.”


Having left her former LA base to join Malcolm Arnold’s training group in Bath, Danvers now trains alongside European and Commonwealth 400m hurdles champion Dai
Greene and a plethora of international hurdlers in her quest to return to fitness.

A former 12.96 100m hurdler, Danvers will train in Italy this spring but is cautious as to when she may even think about beginning to race again:

“I just want to stay in shape and see how far I can go,” she reveals.

“It’s great with Malcolm and training with Dai is inspirational after all’s he has achieved recently.”

In her absence from the athletics scene over the past two-and-a-half years, the female domestic one-lap hurdling scene has thrived, with European bronze-medallist Perri Shakes-Drayton and Commonwealth silver-medallist Eilidh Child leading the way.

“It’s brilliant we’ve got a lot of young girls like Perri and Eilidh coming through and carrying the baton on very well,” Danvers explains.

Usually known for her outgoing nature and off-the-wall fashion statements on and off the track, Danvers appears a little despondent with the sport and considering her luck of late, it is somewhat understandable.

“I hope my son goes into football not athletics,” she reveals.

“I love it but it’s tough.”

Having survived a two-year injury nightmare, it is the thought of the Olympic Games in London next year which has kept Danvers motivated through the dark days.

And if she can find consistency in both her health and training, then this athlete of thirteen years’ international experience could well bounce back for one glorious last hurrah next summer.

“2012 will be an excellent opportunity if I can keep everything aligned well,” Danvers explains.

“I want to give it my best but take each day as it comes.”

Learning His Trade


Last year, although still a student of the event, he captured three national titles and Commonwealth bronze in only his third full season and this summer, 110m hurdler Lawrence Clarke hopes to graduate on to the global senior scene, writes Nicola Bamford.

The prodigious European junior champion is aiming for an early twenty-first birthday present next month when he makes his Great Britain senior debut at the European indoor championships in Paris, following an injury-ravaged yet eye-catching past few months.

Guided by Malcolm Arnold at his Bath base, Clarke took British university, England senior and English under23 gold in 2010 but his campaign was capped off with Commonwealth bronze in Delhi last October.

A seven-time national medallist already, Clarke consolidated his UK outdoor bronze medal by completing the Team England medal-sweep in India behind European champion Andy Turner and he training partner Will Sharman, despite a freak injury shortly beforehand.

Tearing his hip flexor just minutes before the final, Clarke decided to bypass a warm-up to remarkably enjoy his first senior international piece of silverware in an impressive season which saw him move to twenty-second on the British all-time lists,
courtesy of a 13.69 lifetime best in France in July.

“I learnt a lot in 2010 and set really high targets for myself,” explains Clarke.

“I was happy with my races but also got injured at the end of July so that ruined my year and preparation for Delhi.

It was really disappointing but I did the best I could and I couldn’t have been happier – to run 13.7 with a bad injury set me up for the winter.”


In his final year studying theology and religious studies at Bristol University, Clarke is currently enjoying a rich vein of form despite having never planned to contest the indoor season.

After beginning his winter training late due to his big test in India, Clarke had intended to race from May onwards but a call-up to the Commonwealth Select team at the Aviva International in Glasgow last month brought a surprise 7.71 60m hurdles best.

Recently third Aviva European indoor trials and UK championships after again straining his hip flexor, Clarke will next take on Turner, the UK number-one at the Birmingham Grand Prix this weekend before heading to France in a bid to further establish himself on the international senior stage.

“Making the final would mean the world to me,” reveals Clarke.

“Andy’s not going so it will be the youngsters on the team which will be interesting. Essentially, I want to come out of the indoors with more experience for a good summer.”


Having spent a month-long warm-weather training stint in South Africa in January, Clarke will remain strictly at home prior to the outdoor season while he takes his final-year exams before an important summer on the track.

With an aim to win gold at the European under23 championships in Ostrava in July, Clarke also harbours aspirations on making the squad for the world championships in Daegu, South Korea the following month:

“I want to continue my victories in the European age-group championships and I don’t want to think of times, as if I medal there then I may have the qualifying time for the World senior’s,” Clarke explains.

Training alongside Sharman, the former World championship 110m hurdles fourth-placer, Clarke reveals how the talented group of sprint hurdlers in Malcolm’s stable is benefiting both his ability and education in his specialist event:

“The group’s incredibly strong - it’s like going to the national championship final every day.

It’s a little stressful and I feel the pressure but it shows you where you are.

Malcolm’s extremely happy and it’s great for us to have Dai (Greene, the European and Commonwealth 400m hurdle champion) so we can see how a world-class athlete works, it’s invaluable.

Dai’s a very good mentor and I can relate to Will – I’m constantly being pushed and the competition is really beneficial.”

Stepping Stone

Heir to a baronetcy which will one day see him become a Sir, Clarke is literally leaping the class barrier to make a name for himself in his own right - as a winner of titles rather than as an inheritor of one.

And with the 2012 Olympic Games fast-approaching, he is eager to embrace the opportunity for further growth:

“2012’s obviously always in the back of mind as everything’s measured towards that goal,” reveals Clarke.

“Having the Olympics in your home country will have only happened here three times in the last century and I’m in a position to compete for a place there so I won’t throw away the chance of a lifetime.

For me, it’s still a stepping-stone for 2016, really – I’m wary of peaking too soon and I’d like great longevity.

I don’t want to have the unfortunate luck of being too successful too young – I will use 2012 as the perfect experience to prime myself for the future.”

And if he continues to serve his hurdling apprenticeship at this current rate of progression, then Clarke will certainly make his ancestors proud.