WRITTEN FOR SKYSPORTS
One year on since clinching a surprise bronze medal at the European indoor Championships in Paris, 400m runner Richard Buck is hoping to cause another revelation at the global event in Turkey a fortnight from now, writes Nicola Bamford.
The 25-year-old from York improved his four-lap lifetime best by over three-tenths of a second to register an impressive 45.88 when taking the domestic race at the Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham earlier this month, subsequently shooting to eighth-place on the British all-time list in the process.
Following a bronze medal-winning display at the UK indoor Championships in Sheffield the week before, Buck was relieved to enjoy his debut sub-forty-six second run ahead of the winter season’s main focus in Istanbul:
“So far, the indoor season has been going okay - I have known that I was in good shape but it seemed like I wasn’t able to get it out on track at the right times,” the seven-time national champion explained.
“Birmingham was just a case of deciding to go for it - I ran hard to the break and just hoped that I could bring it home.
“I’d just like to go there (at the World indoor’s) and repeat the form I found in Birmingham - I also think as a relay team, we have a really good shot at a medal.”
Guided by Steve Fudge at his Loughborough base, Buck is usually better known as an established regular fixture on the British 4x400m relay squad – which he also anchored to the silver medal during a magical weekend in the French capital in 2011 for the Yorkshire-man.
However, after finally bursting into the individual spotlight when capturing his first senior international medal, Buck is keen to further enhance his growing reputation as a championship finalist on his own merit.
Only fifth in his semi-final at the last World indoor event in Doha in 2010 – where he collected relay bronze – Buck is also eager to move on from a promising yet mixed 2011:
“2011 was probably my best year so far - I won the bronze and silver at the Euro indoors and I ran what were three of my fastest times ever and had my first sub-46 second race,” he revealed.
Despite finishing only sixth at the UK outdoor Championships and ranking only eleventh in Britain at the end of the 2011 outdoor season, Buck remained positive on reflection:
“It was a good year where I showed that I could be competitive on an international level and I showed signs of improvement.”
Determined to replicate the current form he is producing on the boards into the summer and return to the shape which saw run 45.99 in France last July, Buck does not enjoy the luxury of being a full-time athlete either:
“Since my exit form relay funding, I have been forced to take on employment at my local Tesco Extra so I’ve not had the freedom to go on any training camps,” he explained.
“We are presently deciding as a (training) group what our best chances for success are in the outdoor season and if we should travel to a camp to get a block of training in.”
It is an unenviable position to find himself in during the key Olympic year, yet Buck is avid in his chase of a spot on the British team for what could be his Olympic debut in London come August:
“Anything in 2012 is aimed at the Olympics - any competitions are only there to aid me in my chances of a successful Olympics,” he revealed.
“I owe it to myself to give myself every chance at getting to the Games - I realise there is a lot of support and pressure around that but I don’t think anyone can top my own expectations of myself.
“If we’re honest, our best chances of a medal are in the relay and although personally I’m aiming to make it an individual and do as well as I can in that, we’ll all pull together as a team and share our goal of winning an Olympic medal.”