WRITTEN FOR SKYSPORTS
Having sampled the sweet taste of global success this year, sprint hurdler Andy Turner admits to enjoying a constant reminder of his ultimate career goal when often driving past the Olympic stadium on his way to training in and around London ahead of the 2012 Games next summer, writes Nicola Bamford.
The 31-year-old from Nottingham captured a surprise bronze medal in the 110m hurdles at the World Championships in Daegu back in August, swiftly establishing himself as an athlete to watch at the sporting spectacular next season, where – in his third Olympic appearance - he will attempt to sprint into the medals once more.
Guided by Lloyd Cowan at the Lee Valley high-performance centre, Turner offered an overview of his promising 2011 campaign:
“I ticked off everything I needed to do - I ran a PB and I won a World Championship medal so I have to look at it as a successful season,” he revealed.
Having originally placed fourth in the final with 13.44 in South Korea, the Sale Harriers Manchester athlete was upgraded to third after world record-holder Dayron Robles of Cuba was disqualified for a lane infringement – a belated decision which Turner has mixed emotions on:
“I was obviously happy to get the bronze but because I didn’t cross the line in third I didn’t get that emotion of knowing I’d got the medal so I was just satisfied with finishing fourth at the time but being upgraded was a huge bonus,” he explained.
“Daegu itself was a great experience as it’s always interesting to experience such different cultures - despite the food! - and the people were really nice.
“The championships themselves obviously had all sorts of controversy, but all in all, there was a good vibe in the village and I had fun. There was a good team spirit amongst the GB team which bodes really well for next year.”
A European and Commonwealth champion from the 2010 season, Turner endured an injury-plagued summer and so was relieved to register a fine 13.22 life-time best in June to go to third on the British all-time lists before taking his first ever global medal - which significantly improved on fifth place in the heats of the 2009 event in Berlin.
The father of two revealed:
“I had my Achilles problem early season which was a hindrance but I had injections to fix that although, with all the end of season racing I’ve done, it came back a bit.
“The injury didn’t prevent me starting well - I felt on point and I was running well and obviously was delighted with my PB.”
The seven-time national champion continued:
“The Achilles was a referral problem – the actual problem was the tendons underneath my feet which caused the Achilles to be tight. As a result I was running in pain all the time but had a subtalar cortisone injection which knocked out problem.
“I also tore my groin just before the UK Champs and World trials which left me with three or four weeks before the World Champs to recover - that meant ten days of no hurdling at a crucial time so preparation wasn’t ideal but I didn’t feel I lost anything which was the best thing, other than a bit of confidence over the hurdles.”
The World and British record-holder for the 200m hurdles, Turner has just returned to training after an end-of-season break and has jetted off to Florida with his family to continue an unusual set-up with one of his fiercest rivals.
Having created an unlikely friendship with reigning Olympic bronze-medalist David Oliver of the USA, Turner will be working with his squad for a three-month spell before tackling a few indoor races in the New Year.
“I probably won’t run at the World Indoor Championships, though,” the former Notts County FC youth player explained - “what with the focus naturally being on the outdoor season next year.”
After finishing last in his heat in Athens in 2004 and fifth at the quarter-final stage in Beijing four years ago, Turner is understandably determined to build on his recent success to finally clinch an Olympic medal.
“My aim for 2012 is to medal at the London Olympics,” he stated quite simply.
“It’s my third Olympics and I have to look at it as another Olympic Games as opposed to focusing too much on the fact they’re in London - I know what to expect and need to not get over-hyped with it and just keep focused. It’s obviously great to have it so close to home and the support will be unreal.
“We’ve got a few boys, four or five who can challenge for a spot in the team. The 110m hurdles itself is not one of the GB team’s strongest events but I really hope that my success can drive others on to achieve the same and more, in the same way that we’re beginning to see with Dai (Greene – world champion) in the 400m hurdles,” revealed Turner, who despite fighting away the pressure, must be visualizing himself atop of the podium on that daily commute to training.