Lawrence CLARKE hopes he can persuade veteran coach Malcolm Arnold to postpone his retirement once more and steer him to Olympic hurdles glory in Rio.
Clarke was running in the Commonwealth Youth Games when the last Olympics were held in Beijing, but now has his sights set on a medal in 2016 after finishing fourth in the 110 metres hurdles final in London last night.
The 22-year-old, an Eton-educated “toff of the track” needed a personal best of 13.31 seconds to reach the final as the eighth-fastest qualifier, but returned to the track two hours later to finish just outside the medals as Aries Merritt led an American one-two ahead of team-mate Jason Richardson.
Merritt’s time of 12.92secs was just 0.01s outside the Olympic record set by Liu Xiang in Athens in 2004, with Richardson clocking 13.04 and Jamaica’s Hansle Parchment claiming a surprise bronze in a national record of 13.12.
Clarke, the former European junior champion who trains alongside world 400m hurdles champion Dai Greene in Bath was fourth in 13.39secs and said: “Malcolm Arnold took me from running 15.3 in 2008 to 13.3 in an Olympic final.
“I remember when I first met him and I was calling him ‘sir’ and I thought ‘you’re the greatest coach there’s ever been’ – and he still is.
“He’s been almost a father figure.
“Malcolm was sitting with my family this evening and I’m sure he’s sitting there thinking what a poor athlete I was when I arrived. I hope (he cracked a smile), but you never know with Malcolm.
“It’s the next Olympic Games we all want him to stay out of retirement for because he stayed out retirement for me here and I can’t thank him enough.”