Athletics: Gillick hopes right moves can power Doha assault
Getting it right on the big occasion is all-important and David Gillick is looking to apply the same successful tactics, as he did in Birmingham recently, when he throws down a challenge for a medal in the 400 metres at the World Indoor Athletics Championships, which open tomorrow morning with the heats at the impressive Aspire Dome in Doha.
His medal-winning prospects would be greatly enhanced if the Dubliner can run the final like he did in Birmingham when he grabbed the lead 150m from the finish and instantly established himself at the front with powerful running to win in 45.52 seconds, beaten by only one of his upcoming opponents in Doha.
"I made all the right moves in that race, put myself in a perfect position going into the back straight and then just powered away for the victory," said Gillick before departing for Doha this week.
"The fact that I equalled my Irish record has given me extra confidence because, unlike some of my races in the past, I did not tie-up in the last 100 metres, which can so easily happen in the 400. This time I felt very strong and was a surprised at how fast it was.
"I appreciate that no two races are the same, especially indoors, but I want to be close enough at the bell and then make my move on the back straight," said the Dubliner, who won the European title in '05 and '07.
"What you have to think about is that this is a world championship and not a Grand Prix race and everyone in that final will be gunning for each other, and I know I will have to be strong and be ready to fight my corner. Of course I have to make that final first and I'm not looking beyond that."
Gillick is a top-class 400m runner, as he proved last year when he ran 44.77 and finished sixth in the final of the World Championships. Then he started a new training programme under Nick Dakin in Loughborough, as he did for three weeks after Birmingham.
"You will need to be strong in Doha to have a medal chance because we have a heat and a semi-final on the one day and then on to the final," Gillick continued. "But I feel stronger this year than ever before."
Gillick has a couple of quality opponents, including Bershawn Jackson, winner of the US trials in 45.41 from Jamaal Torrance (45.76), Chris Brown of the Bahamas, a two-time indoor bronze medallist, and Australian Sean Wroe.
Jackson could be a very hard nut to crack although the USA has won only one gold medal in the event over the last seven championships. The Russians Dmitry Buryak and Denis Alekseyev both recorded 46.21 at their national championships.
Ireland will have their biggest team ever at the championships but the withdrawal of '06 winner, Derval O'Rourke, is a blow, and many of those in action will have to show improvement if they are to make it through the heats, although it has not been easy for some of them to prepare without an indoor arena in Ireland.
The 20-year-old Brian Gregan gets his big chance in the 400m also after his impressive 46.68 and he can make the semi-finals tomorrow while David McCarthy will be calling on his vast experience in the 800m.
All seven women face difficult assignments, including Claire Brady (60m), Kelly McNeice and Roseanne Galligan in the 1500 metres, Deirdre Byrne and Hazel Murphy in the 3,000m, Kelly Proper in the long jump and Deirdre Ryan in the high jump. Nine of the 10 individuals are in action tomorrow while Proper starts on Saturday morning.