World Indoor champion Gardener aims to raise his game for the summer too
Monday 5 April 2004
The only time Britain’s Jason Gardener has broken 10 seconds for the 100 metres was five years ago, a summer after an indoor season where he had run 6.46 to set the European 60m indoor record.
As he prepares for what is likely to be his last crack at an Olympic title, he is turning back the clock and now with the confidence of being a World Indoor champion.
Gardener, 28, the Great Britain sprinter who won the 60m gold at the World Indoor Championships in Budapest last month, is determined to show he is more than just an athlete who raises his game in the winter months.
Finding the right path to return to sub-10
Unbeknown to many people, when he won in Hungary, he did so with a serious injury but he is already preparing his countdown to the Olympics to the extent he is determined to follow a pattern that has worked before.
“In 1999, I started off with low key races,” said Gardener. “What I did then was to gradually build myself and by doing that I really set myself up well.”
“It is about choosing the right races and being in the ideal conditions for running fast. Deciding upon the right track to race, those that are more conducive for sprinters, and while in the past it has not been on the cards that I would run fast in the summer, I am confident that I will be able to get back to how I ran five years ago.”
The occasion that he broke 10 seconds was in Lausanne but he has rarely looked as prolific as he did this winter equalling his European record, and losing only one race when he missed the start in an event in Birmingham.
He is in his second season being trained by Malcolm Arnold, who guided World record holder Colin Jackson to his years of glory in the 110m Hurdles and, who, in 1972, coached Ugandan John Akii Bua to gold in the 400m Hurdles at the Olympic Games in Munich.
By winning in Budapest, Gardener became the first Briton to take that title, adding to his two European 60m successes and he could not ask for a better way to go into an Olympic year, where he knows he has much to prove to himself, to show he can be among the quickest men outdoors.
Added Pressure for the summer
He said: “It is great being World champion and it important now to look forward to get it right for the summer. I guess there is more pressure on me now that I am World champion because Britain had not won any sprint World championship for a long time.”
“But that is what goes with doing well. What I demonstrated this indoor season was that to go to Budapest as the outright favourite was a difficult thing to be able to do - and I got a huge confidence to be able to handle it and win. Particularly with all the problems I had.”
Gardener had two abductor tears and a tendon injury and he added: "When I reflect on what happened, and when I look forward to the summer, it is gives me such a lift because it shows that even if things are not going well physically in the summer, I can still overcome them.”
Encouraged by Anti-Doping stance
“I am in much better shape than I was in 1999 and I am also encouraged by the positive steps the sport is addressing with the drugs issue.
"It shows the sport is doing a better job of cleaning up its image and for athletes like me who are pushing their body, it is so hard to keep on the level with the cheats. I guess this is why these guys take drugs to train harder, but it is illegal.
“Hopefully it will allow a more level playing field and you have really true sports people performing within the rules.”
by an IAAF correspondent