MATT Shirvington knows he has been forgotten and labelled past his best.
That’s exactly why he is mounting one final serious assault at becoming the fastest white man in the world.
A rejuvenated Shirvington said yesterday his inclusion in Australia’s 4 x 100m relay squad for next month’s world championships in Osaka, Japan, was the first step in returning to the big time.
“There has always been a sense of failed potential in me, I can’t deny that. People understand that and they see it up front,” he said.
“I also know there is no reason why it can’t be fulfilled.”
The former Australian record-holder and five-time national 100m champion hasn’t been sighted since the 2006 Commonwealth Games where he failed to take the baton in the final leg of the relay, which resulted in the Aussies being disqualified.
While many thought that was the end for the 28-year-old, Shirvington returned to his London base and mapped out a training program that would see him performing somewhere near his best again by the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
He popped up on the radar for the first time last month when he clocked 10.28sec in Salamanca to force his way into the relay squad.
“I’m getting better. I wouldn’t say I’m blowing people away or setting the world on fire, but it is improving and that is what I wanted this year,” he said.
“I am just trying to trigger something for next year and keep the flow going.”
Shirvington decided to sacrifice this year’s Australian domestic season in order to get his body right and get his head around becoming a father to daughter Sienna.
“It was just way too much and I am not getting any younger,” he said.
"I have been doing it for 10 years and the travel itself is taxing enough. I just wanted to chill out and do some work over the Australian summer in England and hope it pays me back.
"If I had gone back to Australia. I would have competed with Josh (Ross). I would have wanted to at least save face and push and push.
"I would have sacrificed my training and I wouldn’t have the base I have got now. I just feel like my body is pretty solid, I wouldn’t say it is bulletproof or unbeatable, but it’s pretty solid.
“I know that if I keep progressing at this pace and get into some decent speed, I know I will be able to run it week in, week out.”
Shirvington has been heartened by the form of his training squad, which is coached by Tony Lester, and in particular the season of British sprinter Marlon Devonish.
“Marlon Devonish is looking like a chance for a medal at the worlds,” he said.
"He hadn’t broken 10.13, his personal best before this year, and then he went 10.08, 10.09, 10.09 and 10.06 in four races, which is just brilliant.
“Training with those guys, coming out of blocks with Marlon, who is just a brilliant technician, is nice for someone like me who isn’t a brilliant technician. The way we train has changed a lot this year and we’re starting to reap the benefits.”
Shirvington, who set his personal best of 10.03sec at the 1998 Commonwealth Games, hasn’t given up trying to get an individual berth alongside Ross in the 100m at the world championships.
He will attempt to go under the A-standard qualifying time of 10.21sec this weekend in Talen, Estonia.
He also predicted the Australian relay team - which could include Ross, Shirvington, Patrick Johnson and Adam Miller - had a realistic shot at a medal.
“One of my key motivations is to run in the Australian team and I also know you don’t have to have the best team in the world to go and get a medal,” Shirvington said.
"Australia has proved that at major championships in the past and, potentially, if the four of us can get our form together, there is no reason why we can’t get a medal.
“If the French can be world champions (in 2005), which is absolutely horrific, then there is no reason why we can’t.”