WRITTEN FOR TEAM 2012 VISA
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.”