WRITTEN FOR TEAM 2012 VISA (ON FEB 24TH)
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.