WRITTEN FOR SKYSPORTS
Despite being upgraded to the bronze medal in last years’ global final, the experience was bittersweet for sprint hurdler Andy Turner and so he plans to use the frustrating memory to spur him to an outright medal at the Olympics this summer, writes Nicola Bamford.
The 31-year-old from Nottingham has just returned from a three-month-long spell of warm-weather training in Florida, where the father of two uprooted his family in order to start his 2012 campaign in fine form.
Key to his progression and his search for redemption in this key Olympic year was the man who he has been training alongside and learning much from – his fierce rival and friend, Olympic bronze-medallist David Oliver.
By joining forces with the American for the past two seasons, Turner believes he has given himself the best shot to achieving his Olympic dream in London this August:
“Winter training has gone really well - training with David was cool and we get on really well and both have kids so while we were training, the kids were playing together,” he explained.
“We train well together and can really help one another - I'm a faster sprinter than him but his hurdles technique is better than mine so we work off each other. I think the three months will have benefited us both.”
Although generally in a positive mood, the London-based athlete admits to suffering from a reoccurrence of an injury which threatened much of his 2011 season:
“My old Achilles issue has come back so I'm due to have another injection that will get rid of the problem,” he revealed.
“I'm satisfied that I'm in decent shape despite this so I’ll run a few minor races over the next few weeks to test where I am them I'm due to go on warm-weather training from early March, which will be when I begin to see things coming together ahead of a pretty important date I've got at an event in London at the beginning of August!”
Guided by Lloyd Cowan at the Lee Valley high-performance centre, Turner will compete for Team GB at the Aviva International over the 60m barriers in Glasgow on Saturday after igniting his indoor season with a 7.79 clocking in London a week ago.
With March welcoming the World indoor Championships in Turkey, the seven-time national champion has decided to miss the event in order to focus on his third Olympic appearance:
“After Glasgow, I'm unsure what I'm doing as yet. I'll definitely compete indoors again but the World indoor’s aren't directly on my horizons at the moment - I'd rather finish indoors early and prepare myself for outdoors,” Turner revealed.
With the European and Commonwealth titles – both from the 2010 season – and the 200m outdoor hurdles world-record to his name, Turner is keen to move on from a year of mixed emotions.
Having endured an injury-plagued summer, the Sale Harriers Manchester sprinter was relieved to register a fine 13.22 life-time best in Switzerland in June to go to third on the British all-time lists before taking his first ever global medal, yet his Achilles woes and a groin tear hampered his season significantly:
“My season was very consistent which I was pleased with – the areas I'd been working on in training were being executed well in the race so I was happy and running a PB really showed that all the hard work was beginning to pay off,” Turner explained.
“My main problem was the ongoing Achilles injury but a cortisone injection sorted this and I managed every training session I needed to.”
Understandably eager for an injury-free year, Turner will use the memory of his Daegu drama to propel himself to greater achievements in 2012:
“The only part of the world champs I was satisfied with was my heat - I ran 13.32 and it felt so easy and so I wasn't happy with how I ran the semi and the final but I still managed to take home a medal and that is the main thing,” he revealed.
“Being upgraded to bronze was bittersweet - I had accepted fourth place and was content with that although I was disappointed with my time.
“Then to be told someone had been disqualified and I had a medal was a weird moment - I didn't really know how to feel, I just wanted to hide in a room by myself to try to comprehend things, it was a very surreal time.
“With the way that I ran the final, I didn't feel that I deserved a medal so I carried on training the next day and simply treated it like any other race - I just wanted to move on and get straight back into training - I think I have difficulty in comprehending the enormity of things, I still can’t get my head round it.”
What Turner can get his head around, though is the importance of performing to an even higher level in London this summer – especially after finishing last in his heat in Athens in 2004 and fifth at the quarter-final stage in Beijing four years later:
“The 2012 season will be no different to usual - I'm going back to train with David for seven weeks then I'll be off on the European circuit and I'll probably aim for seven or eight races outdoors before the Games,” he explained.
“Obviously, I have to aim high for the Games so I'm targeting a medal. As fantastic as it is for the Games to be in London, I have to just treat it as a normal competition so I'm just keeping my head down and getting on with the most important thing and that's training.
“I'm not worried about the pressure of a 'Home Olympics' - I'm experienced enough now to be able to channel that pressure into something positive and I'm sure that with the fantastic British crowd behind me in London, I can pull out something special and win a medal.”