WRITTEN FOR SKYSPORTS
Inspired by his training partner and namesake’s world title victory last season, one-lap hurdler Jack Green is determined to emerge from the shadows and enjoy his own success on the Olympic stage this summer, writes Nicola Bamford.
The 20-year-old from Kent is currently nearing the end of a month-long warm-weather training stint in South Africa with coach, Malcolm Arnold and his fiercest foe and friend, global number-one Dai Greene.
Intent on reversing the pecking order in the training group despite finishing fifth in the semi-final stage on his senior championship debut at the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea last August, Green insists 2012 is a year of ‘establishing himself’:
“2011 was for experience but in 2012, I want to be on top,” the 400m hurdler declared.
“A lot of people dislike the way I approach things mentally and the confidence I possess, but unless you believe it, you won't achieve it and I know what I'm doing on the track and what I'm capable of so I'm not shy to put myself out there.
“Long-term wise, my aims are simple – to be the best ever - not just in my event but in the sport. Why give yourself boundaries?”
Such remarkable self-belief evidently derives from plying his trade on a daily basis with hurdles guru, Arnold and with constantly having the global, European and Commonwealth champion there for bait.
Yet Green – who is based in Bath, where he studies Sports Performance at university – finds the pressure a help more than a hindrance:
“Training always has a good atmosphere which can only help us train better,” he explained.
“Myself and Dai are good friends - he's a joker but then is very professional and I'm still learning a lot from him, whereas Malcolm is the enforcer - he's a strong character and I need that.
“I've always had strong characters in my life and I'm very lucky that I have Malcolm coaching me and the rest of the group - I kind of see him like my granddad, I get on very well with him but I wouldn't dare upset him as I'm scared of him really - I'm sure he will love hearing that.”
With certainly no lack of motivation, the European under23 champion is now enjoying his second year in Bath under Malcolm’s tutelage and Green is relishing the shift up in training:
“This winter is very exciting for me as the foundations are there and I can move onto the elite stuff,” he revealed.
“I've been able to start lifting heavy in the gym and I feel more comfortable within myself when I'm training as I'm used to the workload and intensity.”
Now in his sixth season in the event, Green – whose progression has seen him move from sixteenth to third on the British rankings in the past three years – is targeting a spot on Team GB’s Olympic squad for London this August.
After reducing his lifetime best by a second and a half to a scintillating 48.98 at the Aviva British Grand Prix in Birmingham in July, where he elevated himself to eleventh on the national all-time list, Green is eager to further progress and make his Olympic later this year:
“In April, I go away again with my group before kicking off the season in May and I
cannot wait to see where things are at,” he explained.
“I feel I have made a lot of progress from last year and hopefully that means I can kick off 2012 with a personal best like I did in 2011.
“Last year was a great year for me - I achieved nearly everything I had planned on achieving so I'd say I was content with my season but I'll always want more.
“The European’s were brilliant for me - to have a title next to my name was the plan for the whole season but the World Championships were disappointing - I have high hopes, big dreams and I didn't reach them.”
Determined to give himself another shot at making a final against the world’s finest, Green is intent on joining his training partner in the Olympic 400m hurdles final in London:
“The British 400m hurdlers have really taken off in the past year - there was a time that 49.5 would allow you to become an Olympian but the way things are going, it could be 48.5 and below to make an Olympic team,” he revealed.
“It's great for the athletes, myself and the country - it will bring everyone on and the nation will be able to put their hopes and confidence into whoever is chosen, as they will be able to deliver.”