Gardener Targets ComeBack

By David Martin, PA Sport

Injury-prone Jason Gardener is adamant he can quickly regain full fitness and challenge for the European Championships 100 metres gold medal in August.

Gardener feared his summer season would come to an early finish after the recurrence of a back problem which in March ruined his hopes of success at the Commonwealth Games.

The ‘Bath Bullet’ returned from the IAAF Golden League meeting in Oslo at the beginning of the month with his confidence badly undermined after yet another setback.

However immediate and intensive treatment at UK Athletics’ high performance centre in Loughborough have seen him make an excellent recovery.

Indeed such has been Gardener’s progress, he believes he might be ready to race at next week’s SPAR European Cup in Malaga.

Gardener said: "I may be available to run in one of the 100 metre ‘B’ races there and if it goes okay, hopefully I will be drafted into the relay squad.

“I’m not 100% fit yet, but on the way back.”

Gardener added: "There’s still a little irritation and inflammation in my sciatica nerve, but I’m coping with it.

“I’m back in training and already seeing improvements. It’s been a frustrating time and there’s no way I’m ready to race at global level.”

But Gardener admitted he would like to be included in the Norwich Union GB squad for the two-day European Cup event beginning next Wednesday.

The team will be announced tomorrow and, although Dwain Chambers is tipped to contest the individual 100m after making his comeback following a drugs suspension, Gardener wants to make the trip.

He said: "Like most of the British sprinters I’m still a bit rusty and I need to get some races under my belt before the European trials next month.

“I always said the Championships were my major aim this year although I was badly frustrated when I got injured at the Commonwealths and it flared up again in Oslo.”

Gardener, 30, who has been plagued regularly with injuries during his 11-year international career, admits for the moment he is looking no further than the EuroChamps in Gothenburg which begin on August 7.

“I always said after Athens, I would have a two years project and see how things unfold,” said the 2004 Olympic 4x100m relay gold-medallist.