Sunday 17 December 2017

Slim-line Gregan aiming for fast lane after USA training trip

Brian Gregan has lost almost 4kg as he targets a medal at the European Cha,pionships in August. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Brian Gregan has lost almost 4kg as he targets a medal at the European Cha,pionships in August. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

A new slim-line Brian Gregan will open his domestic season in the 200m at the AAI Games in Santry on Sunday.

The powerful Clonliffe star, who won European U-23 silver over 400m in 2011, is not long back from a six-week camp in the USA, where training alongside two Olympic gold medallists has helped not just to alter his body, but his mindset.

Gregan has lost nearly four kilos and pared his body fat down to 7pc in pursuit of a medal at the European Championships in Zurich in August.

His US training trip began with two weeks in Loren Seagrave's high-profile sprint group in the IMG centre in Bradenton, Florida, where he trained alongside America's LaShawn Merritt and Demetrius Pinder of the Bahamas.

Pinder was on the Bahamas team that caused a massive shock by winning the Olympic 4x400m gold in London, and Merritt has an even higher profile as the 2008 Olympic and 2009 World 400m champion.

Merritt subsequently served a 21-month ban after testing positive for a banned substance which he attributed to a male enhancement product, but he has since returned under a different coach (Seagrave), whose former charges include Ireland's Susan Smith.

Gregan himself switched coaches this year, from long-time mentor John Shields to John Coghlan, who has worked with Seagrave before, and the mental effect may prove to be as important as the physical one.

"I'd never trained with anyone faster than me before, so that was great for a start," Gregan said.

"You see these athletes on TV and look up to them but, training alongside them, you see they're not machines or anything, that they really put the work in and are human and can have off days like the rest of us.

"Nothing's ever too hard for them and they just believe they're always going to run fast. Coming from Santry, where the atmosphere is sometimes dead and gloomy, that positivity was a big thing, and hopefully I've brought that attitude back with me."

After Florida, Gregan went to California to work alongside regular training partners Coghlan and Brian Murphy as well as Ulster's 400m hurdles star Jason Harvey and his coach Paul McKee, and competed at Mt Sac and the Penn Relays.

The day's programme will also feature Laura Crowe and a lot of other rising talents, not least Trim teenager Harry Purcell, who completed a big 400m/800m double at Leinster Schools Championships.

Irish Independent

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