Athletics: Gillick dismisses pressure to reach Olympic standard
DAVID GILLICK, Ireland's two-time European indoor 400m champion, insists that his failure to make the Olympic qualifying standard last year will not put additional pressure on him to step up to the mark this season.
Today marks the 150-day countdown to the start of London 2012 and, unlike most of Ireland's top track hopefuls, the big Dundrum South Dublin star, who was sixth at the 2009 World Championships, still hasn't run the qualification standard of 45.30 seconds, having suffered an injury-disrupted 2011.
Yet the Ballinteer man, now back based in Loughborough after an ill-fated training move to America last year, believes his situation is essentially the same as his high-profile British training partners.
"Martyn Rooney (Britain's 400m No 1) has his time from last year but he doesn't talk like that because this year he has to perform at the British Championships.
"If he doesn't win their trials, or finish in the top three, he won't be going to the Olympics, it doesn't matter what he did in 2011," Gillick stressed.
"Jeremy Wariner and LeShawn Merritt (America's top 400m men) haven't qualified yet either because they have to go to the US trials and have to finish top three.
"I'd much prefer to be running the time in the year of the Olympics rather than the year before.
"If it was a case that I was running 44 seconds in 2011 and I was running 46 in 2012, then I wouldn't want to go to London because I wouldn't be performing."
Gillick's lifetime best and Irish record, from 2009, is 44.77 seconds -- well inside the Olympic qualifying mark -- and he regularly broke 45 seconds in 2009/2010.
In a bid to rediscover his top form, he switched back to his old training group and coach Nick Dakin in the winter, and he believes that he's already benefitting.
"You've got to be positive," he said. "Okay, I'm starting from slightly different place then where I was in previous years but I'm happy with where I am, and I feel that I'm in the same situation that I was before with Nick.
"Since my first summer with him in 2007 I've run 45.3 every year. That shows his programme works for me."
Most of Gillick's best outdoor seasons have come off the back of strong indoor performances, but he is skipping the upcoming World Indoors, saying they did not suit his purposes this year.
And while he's predicting that many of Europe's top athletes will sit out this summer's European Championships in favour of the Olympics, he intends racing in both.
"The Europeans will probably be a bit watered down and it might be easier (to win a medal) than in Barcelona (2010) but that's not what I'm looking at," he said.
"I'm looking at the opportunity to put three rounds back-to-back which we don't have a chance to do at our own national championships. That would stand me in great stead and would basically be a dry-run for the Olympics."
Gillick is off to Los Angeles next month for a six-week training camp and will get in some early-season races in the US and the Caribbean before launching his assault on the Olympic qualifying time on the European circuit.
As an Irish athlete based in England, he's experiencing Olympic fever up close and personal, but says it doesn't bring any additional pressure.
"Loughborough is going to be the holding camp for Team GB prior to the Olympics so there's a lot more signage going up around the place and you'd notice a lot more camera crews rocking around the park where I train -- it's great to be gearing towards something like that," he said.
"How many times in your life can you get that buzz?"
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