WRITTEN FOR SKYSPORTS
Whilst a fair majority of Team GB are competing on the boards ahead of the World indoor Championships next month, 400m hurdler Dai Greene is spending the winter months pushing the boundaries of training in his quest for Olympic gold this summer, writes Nicola Bamford.
The 25-year-old Welshman refused to rest on his laurels last autumn after clinching the world title in Dageu, South Korea by boosting his training load in a bid to increase his aerobic capacity and strength endurance for the gruelling one-lap barrier event in the all-important Olympic year.
The saying that ‘however hard it is to reach the top, it’s even harder to stay there’ rings true with Greene, for he is determined to maintain his stranglehold on the event after two progressive years among the major championship medals.
Following European and Commonwealth glory in 2010, the Swansea Harrier captured his first world crown last summer and in an effort to climb atop of the podium again in London this August, has spent the past few months supplementing his training with four mile runs and kilometre repetitions – a bold and unusual move for a sprint hurdler.
Based only five minutes away from the track in Bath, where he is guided by hurdles coaching guru Malcolm Arnold, Greene revealed:
“I’ve been pushing on with my training, adding the volume – it’s going well and I’ve certainly been putting 100% effort in.
“We’ve been doing fartleks, hills and three-minute reps on grass for strength – I’ll do this for another six weeks then drop down the volume.”
Regularly nearing exhaustion, Greene is constantly motivated by the thought of adding another precious piece of gold to his ever-growing collection.
Having recently returned from a month-long spell training in South Africa, he continued:
“I made a lot of progress and I enjoyed my time there - it was nice to have a ‘break’ away in the sun and a change of scenery with no distractions so it was a shock to the system when we arrived back.
“I don’t dream about it (winning the Olympics) but I do use it as motivation to get through the hard sessions.”
Training alongside the current European under23 champion, Jack Green and Commonwealth 110m hurdles bronze-medallist Lawrence Clarke, Greene has come a long way since taking the continental under23 crown in 2003.
A promising footballer with the Swansea City FC youth team, he failed to make the 2008 squad for the Beijing Olympics but enjoyed a breakthrough two years later, winning two international championships and almost eclipsing the 47.82 British record.
Greene came close to the illusive mark when clocking his lifetime best of 47.88 whilst taking the Continental Cup title in Croatia at the close of the 2010 season and as 1992 Olympic bronze-medallist Kriss Akabussi’s record enters its twentieth year, Greene is sure it will be within his grasp yet refuses to focus purely on it:
“I want to be the Olympic champion and I believe the British record’s within my reach but it’s the thought of London that gets me through training – it’s the quest for Olympic gold that pushes me,” he explained.
Looking forward to a training camp in Portugal over the Easter period, the British number-one for the past three seasons will open his 2012 racing campaign at the end of May:
“I’ll do some Diamond Leagues in Europe before the UK trials - in Birmingham in June – it’s a balancing act between training, racing and travelling but I’ll do seven or eight races before the trials over the hurdles and 400m flat.”
The winner of the Diamond League title in 2011, Greene also reduced his 400m flat best to 45.82 to rank eighth on the national rankings for the year – performances which were achieved whilst coping with a secret hip injury.
“I’d like to get involved with the Olympic relay squad so doing some flat races should help my chances of being selected,” he continued.
“I withdrew last minute from the team in Daegu due to feeling tired after the hurdles rounds but the Olympic schedule allows it this time.”
First and foremost on his mind of course, is the 400m hurdles final six months from now and Greene is in positive mood ahead of his Olympic debut:
“The main threats for gold will come from the Americans and the South African and there’s three of us Brits which could do well as well, but I’m confident that I’ll progress further and be a threat like last year - I’m satisfied I’m doing enough (in training).
“I don’t find it (the ‘favourite’ tag) an extra pressure as someone in my position has to aim for the gold – that’s what I’m training for, to run the best race of my life in that final and to have no regrets.”