Guy Learmonth plans to get on his bike in tomorrow’s Muller Anniversary Games in London and show he’s got the extra gear required to take on the best in the world.
The Lasswade ace, 25, goes into the televised Diamond League showpiece with more pressure on his shoulders than most, needing to achieve the qualifying standard of 1:45.90 in the 800 metres to automatically secure a return to the Olympic Stadium next month for the World Championships.
That, the UK indoor champion says, would cap a year of huge ups and downs that has seen him battle through injuries and setbacks to put himself in contention to land the personal best he requires for a spot in the British team.
“I hurt my back ahead of the Birmingham Grand Prix and the only reason I didn’t pull out was because my Mum and Dad had driven all the way down,” he said. “It didn’t come together at the Euros in Belgrade and the lower back kept getting worse.
“I knew there was so much at stake this summer so it was only a few weeks ago that my coach pulled me aside and told me not to race and get the back sorted. I got eight physio treatments in ten days and got battered with massages.
“I spent most of my training on the bike, doing spin classes. Doing the rowing machines. That all helped and even without running much, I felt I could get to Birmingham and do well and I did. And now I feel I’m ready to do great things and hopefully that includes this weekend.”
The A-List cast in London will see Capital duo Josh Kerr and Chris O’Hare clash in the 1,500m while Lynsey Sharp, fresh from running a season’s best time in Lausanne on Thursday, goes in the women’s 800m. And Learmonth, who meets old rival Jake Wightman, admits he’s come out on top in a gamble to wait for a late invite to the event from the organisers rather than making alternative plans.
“The last thing I wanted to do was knacker myself in training and then get a late call on Saturday night followed by a dash down to London,” he said. “That would be the worst preparation ever. But my agent told me to prepare like I was racing. That helped me relax.”