As I mentioned, off the back of some promising early season performances I received a call-up to represent England at an Indoor Grand Prix meeting last Tuesday in Austria, the Vienna Indoor Classic. Personally, I think it’s always a great honour to represent your country whatever the event or partiality; we all have ambitions but they say “tomorrow isn’t promised” and arguably it’s nobody’s birthright to be the best at what they do, so I try not to take opportunities like these for granted. A team of about 20 of us checked in at Heathrow Airport early on the Monday morning and caught the 2.5 hour flight to Vienna, going away to compete with a team is always a whole lot of fun, the travelling seems to go much quicker and the jokes are always popping off – especially when the ever mischievous @Lukey400m, my old training partner, is on the team!
Plus, as a British athlete you’re always looked after well and it’s cool to catch up with old friends, meet new faces too and visit different places around the world. Although the -5ºC daytime temperatures ensured not too much ‘visiting’ went on, like footballers athletes aren’t frequent skiers so I’m pretty safe in saying I’ve never been anywhere so cold in my life or so scared of having to go outside! After our transfer from the airport we arrived at the hotel at around lunchtime and with the meeting not due to kick off until the following evening we had a lot of time to kill, this was no great surprise as such is often the case when competing abroad, luckily sprint hurdler Sara McGreavy brought ‘Arrowhead’ with her (nah I hadn’t heard of it either – a strangely addictive crossword puzzle book!). I spent most of my time graeco-roman wrestling with the team physio to try and ease the stiffness from the races two days previous, and ‘making the world right’ with roommate and fellow philosopher @GianniFrankis!
‘Showtime’ soon came around the following day, I had a good warm up and was drawn in the outside lane in for the heats; the race was a marked improvement from a few days earlier, although I hit three of the barriers and collapsed a little off the last hurdle I managed to hold it together to record another new Personal Best time of 7.75s, qualifying for the final and just marginally missing out on the win by a mere 1 hundredth of a second – check out the race video HERE. However, immediately after the race I felt a slight pain in my right quadricep and after much deliberation decided it would be wisest to pull out of the final and not risk further injury, with UK Indoor Champs just over a week away. This was a pretty frustrating decision to have to make as I was almost certain that I was going to run even faster in the second round, especially with the schedule lending itself to doing so, the final timetabled less than an hour later and having blown away any cobwebs in first round. Nevertheless, I sat on the sidelines and watched the final go by – with acupuncture needles sticking out of my leg! Lovely!!! – low and behold all the competitors that lined up for the final did indeed run faster than they did in the heats.
Having now touched back down on home soil I’ve had some treatment, my quad is back to its normal self and I’m glad I decided to err on the side of caution to make sure that I’m 100% for the one that really counts, this weekend. With enough warm up races under the belt and the luxury of having had a few sessions this past week to make some final adjustments, I’m now chomping at the bit to get out and compete in front of a sell-out, capacity crowd this weekend, at what is the focal meet of the Indoor season and first blood of this Olympic year, the UK Indoor Championships in Sheffield. Make sure to tune in on Channel 4 from 2pm this Sunday, should I qualify through the heats the final is being televised live at 3.15pm and is one of the most hotly anticipated events on the programme.
Thanks again for all of your support and well wishes, please keep your fingers crossed for me!
~ Julz ~