By Mark Ashenden
Last Updated: 24/05/18 2:51pm
Andrew Pozzi headed to Australia in April with a spring in his step.
The 26-year-old had just been crowned World Indoor 60m hurdles champion in Birmingham and the Sky Sports Scholar was hunting more gold at the Commonwealth Games.
Pozzi relives his agonising final but also reflects on the positives he absorbed as he looks to impress in a busy summer.
“I finished sixth in a world-class field and sadly all I took home from the Gold Coast was a four-year wait to right my wrongs and compete for another Commonwealth medal.
As my outdoor season properly gets underway this summer I’ve been reflecting on my six weeks on the Gold Coast and I have mixed emotions.
I won my heat in a world-leading time of 13.29s. The crowd was amazing and it was great to see a couple of my family members in the stadium having travelled across the world to support me.
My race was good. I had a small stumble at hurdle 6 but otherwise I felt controlled and strong. I went back to the athlete’s village confident to challenge for gold the next day.
I felt sharp and ready to get into the stadium. My starts practice and hurdle runs were great and I walked to the call room full of excitement.
Hurdling can be so frustrating as timing is everything – arrive at a hurdle too early or a little too late and your technique can change entirely and you can hit a hurdle…a mistake that can be fatal to a race.
In the final, I shot out of the blocks like a rocket but sadly one headed straight for the cross bar of hurdle 1! I put my lead leg straight through the hurdle and stumbled losing both the lead and my momentum.
I stayed calm and tried to work my way back through the field and initially did OK. Changes in timing in a predominantly rhythm-based event can be problematic and with each hurdle as I rushed through my flight I was getting closer and closer to the next hurdle.
By the time I reached hurdle 8 I didn’t have room to fully extend my lead leg up and over the 3ft 6″ high barrier and I crashed through hurdles 8 and 9 putting to bed any hopes I had of recreating my World Indoor success and winning Commonwealth gold.
So sixth place in my first Commonwealths. Competitively the Games posed many problems for me and my preparations.
Rarely in Track and Field is there an outdoor championship in April. The outdoor season usually runs from June-September with the major championships almost always falling in August.
Any season – indoor or outdoor – can be exhausting. Physically there is a lot of travelling and obvious competitive demands but mentally the toll can be a lot greater.
For over a year I focused on the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham as a major home championships and a great chance to win my first World title. The emphasis on this championship was made even greater after failing to win a medal at last year’s Worlds in London.
Fresh off a successful Indoor season where my goals were met; I was in fantastic shape and physically prepared to do well at the Commonwealths. What I didn’t plan for was the draining effects of the indoor season.
Heading to Australia, it was tough to capture the ‘major championship’ feeling needed to seize the moment so soon off the back of another. My body, too, felt flatter than before.
Combined with the travel, my first two weeks in Brisbane were steady, but lacking the quality I was used to. Having said that, it was still great to be part of Team England and be with some of my team-mates.
The holding camp was inspiring, watching the world’s best athletes train. It was carnage at times! In between training runs I watched javelins fly by me, high jumpers defy gravity, sprinters racing and distance runners tallying up the laps.
Training really improved closer to the competition and I started to put some great sessions together in some of my fastest times ever. I was working mainly on the second half of my race and ‘long hurdling’ because the indoor season races are over 60m and the outdoors 110m. Practising hurdles 5-10 was a big priority.
The best thing about a team training camp is working with new people. It’s always interesting and exciting because everyone has different strengths.
For my last hurdles session before I actually raced, Dave King and multiple World and European medallist Tiffany Ofili-Porter decided to have some friendly competition and run starts together. It was a great way to get into a competitive mindset.
Something else which was great was sharing an apartment in the athletes’ village with some good friends and great athletes, which really helped my preparation.
I shared with Adam Gemili (my usual roommate at championships) and my training partner Harry AA, Nathan Douglas, Andrew Osagie, Dwayne Cowan and Zharnel Hughes.
Overall, there was such a great atmosphere in Australia and it certainly helped me enjoy the Commonwealths despite the competition not going as I hoped.
All focus now moves to the outdoor season and the European Championships in Berlin!
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