Friday, 27 May 2011

Breaking through the Barriers


Written by Nicola Bamford

Determined to capitalise on the best season of his athletic career so far, 400m hurdler Nathan Woodward is set to continue his rise to form this summer as he looks ahead to competing in two major championships.

The 21-year-old Staffordshire athlete enjoyed a breakthrough 2010 outdoor campaign in which he won the Loughborough International, sped to a 49.70 lifetime best in Switzerland and reached the semi-final stage of the European Championships in Barcelona, despite finishing only sixth in the British trial and UK Championships.

Having performed admirably on his senior major championship debut and having rose to the eighth-fastest under23 spot on the British all-time rankings, Woodward understandably declared himself content with the year:

“I was fairly happy with how the 2010 season went - I made a breakthrough by going sub-50 seconds for the first time, and gained my first senior selections for the European Champs and Commonwealth games,” he reveals.

“But I really believe I should have made the final (in Spain) and I had to withdraw from the Commonwealth Games due to an illness that had affected me for much of the last half of the season.

“I gained a personal best but again, I believe there was more in the tank.”


Despite his mixed opinion on the year, the Loughborough University-based sprint hurdler is both grateful to be healthy and positive for the forthcoming season, following a troubled two-year period.

After missing almost four months’ worth of racing in the 2009 season due to injury, Woodward again succumbed to an illness setback during the latter part of 2010 so is understandably eager to ensure he has a problem-free summer this time around:

“I am really pleased with how training has gone over the winter - I feel in the best shape I have ever been in, and cannot wait to start getting some good 400m Hurdle races under my belt,” he explains.

“The main goals for this year are to go to the European u23 championships and perform well there and then gain selection for the World Championship team, as well as taking a huge chunk off my personal best.”

The aspiration of medalling in the age-group competition in Ostrava this July is quite realistic for the former English under17 pentathlon champion, as is the chance to compete in Daegu, South Korea in late August.

After finishing the year as Britain’s fourth-fastest in the event, Woodward will aim to be amongst the nation’s top three in order to make his global debut for Team GB:

“The talent in the 400m hurdles in Britain is incredible at the moment, with so many athletes running fast, like Dai Greene leading the way winning both the Europeans and Commonwealth games,” he reveals.

“I think it's exciting that so many Britain's are running fast at the moment, and it can only help push me on to perform at the highest level and run the kind of times that will medal at global championships.”

Guided by Nick Dakin, Woodward has started his campaign in promising style with a 46.82 400m flat personal best in California last month, followed by a 50.34 clocking in his specialist event in Italy a fortnight ago to currently rank him as third on the national rankings.

And with the 2012 London Olympics quickly approaching, Woodward is all too aware of the importance in continuing his sharp progress in time for next summer and beyond:

“I hope to make the final in 2012 and to medal would be fantastic,” he explains.

“After 2012, I aim to keep improving and progressing, with the World Championships in 2013 and 2015 and before the 2016 Olympics in Brazil where I will be 26 and so potentially at my physical peak - so again a (gold) medal will be the main goal there.”

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