Thursday, 31 May 2012
Murray's Shock Breakthrough
WRITTEN FOR SKYSPORTS
After a whirlwind early season track campaign has propelled him to the cusp of Olympic selection, 1500m prodigy Ross Murray admits to being in a state of shock following a less-than-professional build-up to London 2012, writes Nicola Bamford.
The 21-year-old from Gateshead confessed to being so disillusioned with the sport last summer that he succumbed to the university stereotype of surrounding himself with parties and alcohol, causing him to gain 7kg in weight and lose his passion for athletics in the process.
But now – following an injury-free winter – the St Mary’s university undergraduate finds himself as a key contender for Team GB ahead of Augusts’ Olympic Games in the British capital, after speeding to a remarkable 3:34.66 clocking last weekend.
Guided by Craig Winrow, Murray – who has now improved from 3:43.51 since 2010 and from 3:40.34 in the space of just five weeks – revealed:
“This year has been a bit mental to be honest!
“At the start of the year, I didn't think I would run that quick - I thought maybe 3:36 at best so to run it on a cold windy day and win the race by five seconds was a bit of a shock!
“After that, I thought I would have a shot at running the Olympic ‘A’ standard but I wasn't exactly sure how quick I could go.”
Opening his outdoor campaign with a solid 3:40.34 in Stretford at the end of April, Murray then went on to register his breakthrough 3:36.69 Olympic ‘B’ standard at the BMC Grand Prix in Manchester in mid-May, before unleashing a shock 3:34.76 clocking when finishing ninth against a top international field at the Fanny Blankers-Koen Games in Hengelo in the Netherlands just eight days
Murray – who did not compete over the metric mile at all in 2011 – currently sits as second on the British rankings for the season behind World 5,000m champion Mo Farah (3:34.66) and in twenty-first position on the UK all-time senior list.
Now ranked as the fifth-fastest u23 of all-time, Murray explained the reasoning behind his sudden metamorphosis:
“2011 wasn't a great year for me – I was training quite well early in the year but then I got ill and injured and it all fell to bits,” he said of the year in which he dabbled in the 5,000m event, resulting in a best of only 15:16.76.
“I was trying to live the university lifestyle as well as the athlete lifestyle and it just couldn't work.
“Once I got injured, I got very disillusioned with the sport and went off the rails for a bit - I was out partying way too much, drinking too much - I put on about 6/7kgs and wasn't sure if I wanted to get back involved in athletics.
“I was even organizing to go and work abroad in one of the club 18-30 resorts but luckily, things worked out and I feel like a very lucky boy right now.”
On the winter which saw him place ninth in the British universities cross-country championships and seventh in the UK indoor 3,000m championship final, Murray continued:
“My winter wasn't a perfect build-up - through September and October, I was still trying to build up into full training after my Achilles injury.
“I had a calf problem in November but by the end of December, I was almost at full training and since then, I've been lucky enough to get some consistent training in without too many issues.”
A sixth-place finisher at the 2009 European junior championships, Murray plans to next tackle either an 800m or another 1,500m competition before heading to the Olympic trials in Birmingham at the end of June, where he hopes to seal his place on the British Olympic squad.
Understandably excited about the prospect of making his Olympic debut on home turf, at a young age and on the back of such an eye-catching revival, Murray revealed:
“The main goal now is to just make that Olympic team - I'm not thinking much beyond that as I don't want to get ahead of myself.
“It has been a crazy year so far as it is so, I just want to take it all one step at a time, stay relaxed, keep having fun and hopefully things will go well.”
With a refreshingly laid-back attitude to his second chance in the sport, Murray – who is known for his love of pizza and admits to craving an appearance in reality TV show Geordie Shore – added:
“I love chilling in the beer garden with the boys and girls, relaxing and having fun - I think people can sometimes take sport too seriously, the main thing is to enjoy it - if you don't then what's the point!?”
Aiming for a top-two position in the trials next month, the 2011 UK 3,000m indoor silver-medalist continued:
“If I made the London Olympics, I would be absolutely buzzing!
“To step out in front of a home crowd would be something that may never be matched in your career again - I would just want to do myself, my family, my friends and the whole country proud!”