Guy Learmonth has vowed to make 2016 a year to remember after the personal traumas that floored his hopes of a major breakthrough last summer.
The Lasswade prospect, 23, makes his first outing on home soil this year in tomorrow’s star-studded Grand Prix in Glasgow as he gears up for an 800 metres tilt at next month’s world indoor championships in Portland.
It was 12 months ago that Learmonth underlined his steps forward with a first UK title and a place in the final of the Euro Indoors. Beneath the surface, however, he was struggling to keep up.
After the deaths of his grandfathers in 2014, a close friend was paralysed in a crash before his beloved dog caught cancer and died – blows that hit the Scot hard.
“I went to the Euro Indoors in Prague and things were good in the way I was running,” he said. “But it was all too much after everything that happened. It was all just moving too fast and too good to be true.
“I fell out with my coach at the time and that was the final straw. I’m very good at blocking things out to focus on what I needed to do. But once it was all over, it all came to the surface. I went to South Africa and I loved it and learnt so much but I had a few biomechanical issues then and I found a few weaknesses that were a concern.
“And then in early June, I cracked my tailbone. That really knocked me off course for the rest of the year.”
With a win in his opener in Vienna last month, Learmonth kept up his fine start with a second place in Athlone, Ireland, on Wednesday night. And he’s told the home fans to be ready to see a new approach at the Emirates Arena where he’ll face Ethiopia’s world gold medallist Mohammed Aman.
“I’ve lost about three kilos and changed my body by getting rid of body fat to help that along,” he revealed. “I wish I’d done it sooner. I never used to go to the gym because my coach was worried I’d bulk up. But now I’ve gone in, I’ve done a full programme. I can lift the kind of weights I did in my rugby days and it’s been a win-win.”
Elsewhere, Lothian RC’s Sarah Inglis joins fellow Scots Steph Twell and Jo Moultrie in the women’s 3000m with Mo Farah topping the bill in the men’s event.