By Jason Henderson, January 18th 2007
After a week of flu and horrendous problems with his wrist and back, the Bath Bullet is looking forward to defending his Euro indoor 60m title
JASON GARDENER has pulled out of this weekend’s Scottish Indoor Championships after a bout of flu has laid him low for a week, but the Bath sprinter is smiling again as he moves toward his goal of winning a fourth European indoor 60m title in Birmingham at the start of March.
“Today is the first time I’ve seen him smile for a week,” his coach, Malcolm Arnold, said today (Jan 18).
Gardener plans to open his season at the Norwich Union International in Glasgow next week. And should he enjoy a successful indoor season it will be a remarkable comeback from a wrist operation and back problems that have dogged him in recent years.
Speaking in the current issue of Athletics Weekly, he explained how he lifted weights for two years with a stress fracture in his wrist, plus a further year with a complete break in the bone.
Now, after having an operation last year, he has been told the horrendous consequences if he breaks the area again. “If it smashes there will be bone and metal all mixed together,” he said.
Explaining the agony of doing weights exercises such as the power clean with a broken wrist, he agreed: “Yes, of course, it’s awful. But not as awful as losing races.”
The problems even date back so long that during the Olympic 4x100m final in Athens in 2004, British hopes were reliant on Gardener’s wrist holding up. “I carried the baton with my right hand and the wrist had a stress fracture at the time,” he says. “But it’s what you do when you’re pushing your body.”
So should he win in Birmingham at the start of March, it will be without the key weights exercises that have formed the bedrock of his strength programme.
“Because my wrist was painful, I was catching the bar in a compromise position when lifting weights,” he explains. “This meant my back was slightly out of place on every lift. I’ve had trouble with my back over the years and have degenerating discs, so this didn’t help.”
Gardener endured a nightmare year in 2006, but he hopes 2007 will get off to a much better start.
- A much longer version of this interview appears in the current issue of Athletics Weekly.