WRITTEN FOR SKYSPORTS (MARCH 31)
He turned down the chance to study in America last autumn to train alongside Britain’s best and now, 400m hurdler Jack Green is reaping the rewards for remaining loyal to his English roots, writes Nicola Bamford.
The 19-year-old from Kent AC chose to join hurdling guru Malcolm Arnold’s training squad in Bath over a journalism scholarship in Nebraska and has since witnessed a dramatic improvement in form.
Training alongside European 400m hurdles champion Dai Greene and Commonwealth fifth-placer Rick Yates, Green shattered his 400m flat lifetime on six occasions during the indoor season and finished the winter as Britain’s sixth-fastest senior.
The start of 2011 was indeed an impressive campaign for the Londoner’s first year in the senior ranks, having clocked a swift 46.91 and finishing fourth in the UK Championships, and the national junior indoor 400m and 400m hurdles champion is now excited about his potential in the countdown to the London Olympics next summer:
“Since moving to Malcolm, I have started training six times a week –I only trained two or three times before and hadn't started weights, and Dai and Rick are really helping me progress,” explained Green.
“I'm really happy with 46.91 when my outdoor personal best is only 47.94.
The (indoor) season was all about me experimenting and now we are addressing my race pacing and things are going in the right direction.”
A first year sports performance student at Bath University, Green enjoyed a stellar outdoor season last summer to record personal bests in the 200m (21.77) and his specialist event (50.49) – the latter taking him to third on the British under20 all-time list and fifth place at the World junior Championships in Canada.
There, he also anchored Team GB to the 4x400m bronze medals with a storming 45.76 leg to cap off a memorable season.
“2010 was a bit of a breakthrough year - I picked up a world junior medal and ran the fastest split of the championships,” revealed Green.
I'm looking forward to taking that through to outdoors and hopefully make a breakthrough into the senior team in both the hurdles and the relay.”
With British duo Greene and Rhys Williams leading the way in Europe and Green himself ranked only eighth-quickest senior in 2010, the young pretender knows all too well how tough such an aim will be, regardless of his stark improvements:
“The 400m hurdles have really stepped up in the UK and that's a positive for everyone in the event,” he explains.
Having enjoyed a productive spell of warm-weather training with Arnold’s stable in South Africa at the turn of the year, Green intends to open his outdoor campaign at the British Universities Championships in May before heading to high-altitude for a short stint in Italy.
The plan is to compete as much as possible in Europe to experience the life of a professional athlete and gain some scalps and quick times ahead of his biggest goal of the summer, the European under23 Championships.
Held in Ostrava in July, Green is targeting continental gold and additionally hopes to make the senior squad for the senior World Championships in Daegu, South Korea the following month:
“I really want the experience of a major senior competition before London 2012,” he explained.
“I would love to be there and I will do everything in my power to make sure I am selected and then be in a position to make the final and do myself justice,” Green revealed on his aspirations for the Olympic Games in London next year.
“To walk out in front of a home crowd all cheering for you would be amazing.
My long-term goals are the same as every athlete really - global titles and world records - I don't want to leave the sport thinking I should have achieved more.”