Craig Pickering in Glasgow

From The Times
January 25, 2008

Testing time as Craig Pickering puts fitness on the line in Glasgow

Rick Broadbent, Athletics Correspondent

Craig Pickering is an anxious man for someone who has been hailed as the saviour of British running, a great white hope and a future Olympic star.

It is not his looming finals exam in biomechanics at the University of Bath that is bothering him, either.

“I worry a lot,” he said. “I fret about things and get uptight. But I want the doubts in my head. I want to be nervous. I’m just a worrier. Only about athletics though.”

Biomechanics be damned, the future looks bright for a 21-year-old who burst into public consciousness when he beat Jason Gardener, his erstwhile training partner, a year ago in Glasgow.

He returns there tomorrow for the 60 metres at the Norwich Union International with his cover as promising junior blown.

Big things are expected of the new Bath Bullet, via Milton Keynes, but the bad news is that he is worried about his back.

“It is constantly tight and it is a worry,” he said. “Last summer I could feel it every time I sat down. I’m not the most flexible and have associated structural problems with my spine.
Most sprinters have something and this is mine. To have it at 21 is a concern but I’m just going to have to manage it over the next ten years.”

The greatest fear of all, however, is not fulfilling his potential.

British athletics is littered with those who have not built on fledgeling achievements and Pickering has questioned whether attitude had played a part in Mark Lewis-Francis not using his World Junior Championships gold medal in 2000 as a launch pad.

Pickering, though, has a professionalism that should serve him well and he seems almost incredulous that the likes of Lewis-Francis and Simeon Williamson, another sprint prodigy, are sitting nervously on two missed drug tests.

Pickering keeps his fast feet on the ground
“I want to retire and say I achieved everything I could have,” he said.

“I moved [to Bath] to work with Malcolm [Arnold, his coach] because I knew I only have one shot. If my best is good enough to win the Olympics then fine, if it’s good enough to make an Olympic final then that’s also fine. I just don’t want to let myself down.”

(EDIT topic off limits here)

He is bored by the talk of becoming the first white man to dip below the magical ten seconds, because he judges himself merely as a colour-blind contender.

He also knows that his best time is 10.14sec and some 40 men, including a trio of Britons, Marlon Devonish, Williamson and Tyrone Edgar, went faster last year. When Williamson beat him at the European Under23 Championships in July, he admits he was “gutted” until he noted that had run a personal best.

He is optimistic as he enters Olympic year. His aims include a medal at the World Indoor Championships in March and another in the Olympic 4 x 100 metres relay. “I feel stronger and my times for the 60 metres and 100 metres are better than last year,” he said. “Last year my aim was to beat Jason in everything I did, but he’s retired now and I’m a lot more relaxed. It’s a year since I ran 6.55sec [in Glasgow] and you can’t lose that. It doesn’t disappear.”

Pickering was disappointed at not reaching the 100 metres final at the World Championships in August, in what he termed “a weak year for sprinting”, although his back was a problem in Osaka, Japan.

“I’m getting more and more worried about it because I’m competing again,” he said. And the biomechanics exam? “Oh, I’m not worried about that.”

Ticket to ride

—Tickets for the Norwich Union International at Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall available on 0800 0586056 or via the website at

Looking forward to seeing how he opens up…last year at this point he’d have had 3 comps (8 races) under his belt. He opened up with 6.70 and by race 8 had PB’d with 6.55 (South of England). Simeon should be watched aswell…Another interesting indoor year for Brit sprinters.

Jason, how is your training coming? You getting ready to challenge these guys?

Hey bro…training has been going well! Just been dealing with flu and stomach viruses…:frowning:

Apart from that all is good…realistically these cats are a little out of my league this year…but I’m a warrior and I’m always up for a tear up over 60m…its who dares wins…anything can happen…

Hows things going with you?

You still at Brunel tomorrow??

Last year when i spoke to Arnold in Osaka about Olympic planning he said it would be almost impossible to do well at the Olympics if you ran World Indoors. Seems like he isn’t taking his own advice!

Well I know Craig was always keen on doing the World indoors as he feels he has a better chance of finalling and medalling indoors than at the Olympics at this stage in his career.

I’d agree with that statement but over there they don’t get funded to win WC medals only Olympic ones and Arnold’s oppinion was so strong at the time. Personally, I think you can win both.

Is that right? I thought WC medals counted when they considered funding. I know Craig has quite a big say in that camp regarding the training set up and what he wants to happen, so maybe he twisted Malcolm’s arm…