Saturday, 19 May 2012
Double Task for Turner
WRITTEN FOR SKYSPORTS
This Sunday, world 110m hurdles bronze-medallist Andy Turner will tackle two events on the streets of Manchester in order to increase his speed endurance ahead of an even bigger task at the London Olympics this summer, writes Nicola Bamford.
The 31-year-old – who is a member of Sale Harriers Manchester to boot – will be seeking a third-consecutive victory over the double whammy of hurdles events at the Powerade Great CityGames in the city centre this weekend and he admits the fierce competition will make his job even harder.
Contesting his specialist 110m hurdles against the 2008 Olympic silver-medallist David Payne of the USA along the annually-constructed track on Deansgate, Turner will then return just forty-five minutes later to take on the 200m barriers against the 2004 Olympic 400m hurdles champions Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic and his own world best and British record of 22.10.
The Nottingham-born father of three explained:
“The 110m hurdles looks a strong field so it will be a good indication of where I’m at in training and I’ve got my favourite event, the 200m hurdles so it should be a great race which I’m really looking forward to.
“The 110 is business and the 200 is pleasure - the 110 is just another race but it just so happens it’s in the middle of a busy street and the 200 is for my speed endurance which I’d do the on the flat in training anyway so it’s good for training and will benefit me further down the line.”
Guided by Lloyd Cowan in his London base, Turner continued:
“I feel my technique is really good at the moment but my speed needs some work so this will be a good test - I’ll just keep warm and loose somewhere and I won’t do another warm-up, the win is more important than a time as they’re all quality athletes.”
A former youth footballer with Notts County FC, Turner has endured a difficult past twelve months as a long-term Achilles injury threatened much of his summer and the entire winter season indoors this year.
Having cut short his indoor campaign after limping home at the Aviva International in Glasgow back in January, he then began his outdoor season with a modest 13.57w clocking in Florida in late April, 13.50 in Jamaica in early May and then a 21.8 200m clocking at the low-key Nottinghamshire Championships last weekend – which were all quite disappointing performances by his own
Yet, rather than worry in the all-important Olympic year, Turner is optimistic that time is on his side:
“The Achilles affected me for the whole of last year - I had another cortisone injection at the start of the year but it’s not good to keep having those so I had an epidural injection in mid-March and it’s taken away all of the pain (in my shoulder, too),” he revealed.
“It’s quite amazing that it’s fixed me. I trained fine in America and my hamstring’s just tight all the time so it’s playing on my mind but I see the physio’s a lot so it’s not too much of a worry.”
On his recent races, the 2010 European and Commonwealth champion divulged:
“The race in Jamaica was a disappointment as I hit the last hurdle hard and know I’m in decent shape.
“This hamstring drama’s been going on for a while so I took it easy at the county champs – I did it to give back to the sport, having grown up there – I haven’t raced there for ten years and it’s where my track and field life started so it was good to go back to talk to the kids.”
Having enjoyed a three-month spell of training in Florida with his great rival and friend Olympic bronze-medallist David Oliver of the USA and again for two-months in early spring, Turner is confident the sacrifice of uprooting his young family will pay off when it comes to making his second Olympic appearance in August.
Fifth in his heat at the 2008 Beijing Games in another season marred by injury woes, Turner explained how four women in his life have managed to keep things upbeat and in perspective for him:
“There’s Jasmine, seven, Carmen, five and Morgan who’s one and they’re my biggest fans,” he said.
“They only came out with their mum for a fortnight last time as they’d had too much time away from school but I can now plat their hair and I know Barbie quite well now, though I probably shouldn’t admit that!
“They’re always saying don’t come home without a medal so there’s a lot of pressure but it’s cool as their friends see me on TV and so they get the bragging rights in the playground.”
With a lifetime best of 13.22 from last June – which ranks him as the third-fastest Britain of all-time – most would assume Turner is a shoe-in for Team GB selection for the Games but with fast-improving youngsters Andy Pozzi and Lawrence Clarke hot on his heels, Turner is well aware complacency could cost him a place on the squad:
“Andy and Lawrence have both ran really well recently and it’s not a surprise to me,” he explained.
“Pozzi ran so well indoors and I’ve had it easy for seven or eight years, being number-one so it’s about time those guys try to take my place but I’ll still be fighting for it – the rivalry’s good for me, for us all and for the sport.”
Competing in Ostrava next Thursday and twice in America around the turn of June, Turner is adamant that he can prove his global bronze in 2011 was no fluke when it comes to stepping out in the Olympic stadium this summer:
“I want to make the final then run my heart out and hopefully win a medal in London,” he revealed.
“It’s not about the fastest athlete, it’s about who makes the least mistakes – you’ve got to be in it to win it, like I was in Daegu.
“It’s not going to be easy to even make the final but no matter what, you won’t have seen the last of me in London.”