Each week, Stuart Weir sends me 3 stories on athletes and coaches in British Athletics that he believes our readers will see as interesting. Since he began doing this, I must admit that I have not had a week where I did not learn something about these elite athletes. In 2020, Stuart Weir wrote 150,000 plus words in @runblogrun and @athleticsweekly.
We hope you enjoy learning more about Andrew Pozzi, GB’s top 110 hurdler.
Andrew Pozzi Part 1
Andrew Pozzi has had a stellar indoor career without quite achieving his potential outdoors – yet. His career has also been hindered by injuries. In 2020 he was arguably in the form of his life and is in a good place as we enter what we hope will be an Olympic year.
He took a silver medal in the European Juniors in 2011. In the World Indoors he was 4th in 2012 and 2014 before winning in 2018 in Birmingham. He also won the European Indoors in 2017. He has yet to run in an outdoor world or Olympic final.
Injuries have dogged his career. In 2012 he qualified for the London Olympics but was injured. 2013-2015, he managed only one outdoor race. He said of that period: “Everything from January 2011 through to March 2012 was perfect, including the World Indoors in Istanbul when I made that massive leap forward and came fourth in esteemed company with a big PR. In 2012 I had a number of hamstring and back injuries. And then the wheels slowly started to come off but it wasn’t really acknowledged until the Olympics. I was injured between the indoor and the outdoor season and all through the outdoor. I just kept picking up hamstring and back injuries and had to change my training a lot. Then it culminated in the London Diamond League at Crystal Palace where I got a really major tear in my hamstring – just before the Olympics. Sadly it didn’t recover and running and the Olympics opened up a can of worms which took a while to get over”.
In 2016 he made the final of the European Championships but could not run, on which he comments: “I reached the final in Amsterdam but had to pull out because of physical issues and in the Anniversary Games had the same problem and had to pull out and in the Rio Olympics I was struggling with some problems in the semi-final”.
In 2018 he made a brave decision to relocate to Italy to train at the Italian Olympic Centre under Cuban coach Santiago Antunez, who has coached two of the last five Olympic 110m hurdles champions Anier Garcia (2000) and Dayron Robles (2008).
2019 was a year of adjustments and not without injuries. At the World Championships in Doha he was fifth in a semi-final commenting, “It was just messy from start to finish. I felt like I had a lot of speed but the timing was just never there and obviously in the hurdles that makes things incredibly difficult. I hit hurdle two hard and five hard. I was just really close. Every time I pushed and tried to use my speed the timing was out and huge, huge mistakes. I just think my timing and rhythm isn’t back up to competition levels – the injury has kind of interrupted that this season”.
He started 2020 in great form – four indoor meets, seven races, seven wins setting himself up well to defend his World Indoors title in China until the event was cancelled. His assessment of the start of 2020 was: “The indoor season was good, very strong. Once the World Indoors was canceled, it was a little bit flatter than we would have liked. When you’re not preparing for a championship, it’s often difficult to get the same level of intensity. I won all the races and my 7.48 was just a few hundredths slower than the time with which I won the World Indoors in Birmingham. I felt I was in PR shape but just needed the appropriate occasion. So at that point it was a confirmation that things were going really well. It was just a shame that there wasn’t a major championship at the end of it for a chance of a PB or a world-class time. I was very pleased to win all the races. I wasn’t always best prepared and sometimes had the odd niggling issue which made it hard to run my best. In Torun I run a good time even though I hadn’t had the best preparation”.
In part 2 Andrew will explain his approach to the 2020 outdoor season and give his assessment of what happened. Before that, I thought you should know of Andrew’s admiration for Michael Jordan. He told me: “Growing up I was a huge Michael Jordan fan and my parents got me a life size, cardboard cutout of Michael Jordan which lived behind my bedroom door for years”.