Imperial athletes on track in Olympic test event
3 May 2012
This weekend, Imperial athletes will get a head start on their Team GB counterparts by stepping on track inside the Olympic Stadium as part of the British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) athletics championships.
An official Olympic test event, more than 1500 athletes from 100 universities and colleges across the country will compete in a range of disciplines, marking the culmination of Universities Week.
Members of Team GB and former BUCS champions including Dai Greene (400m hurdles), Perri Shakes-Drayton (400m hurdles)and Lisa Dobriskey (800m and 1500m) will be among the 40,000 spectators cheering the competitors on.
James Teuten, 4th year Civil Engineering and captain of the Imperial College team will be aiming to lead his athletes to success and told Reporter how he and the team have been getting ready.
How have you prepared for the event?
My target is to at least make the 800m semi-final so I have upped the training – it’s about an hour a day at the moment. My training incorporates lots of speed endurance, technical drills and flexibility work. The 800 metres is considered by some to be an extended sprint, so speed work is essential, and I find cross country running gives me the strength I need. We train at the Battersea Park track and at the Linford Christie track, home to the Thames Valley Harriers athletics club, which is near Hammersmith Hospital. We also run in Hyde Park.
Have you got a time in mind?
My personal best is 1:57.4, and if I can get close to that I should definitely qualify for the semis. That was set five years ago, although I did run a 1:58 indoors just over a year ago.
How do you juggle training with your final year at Imperial?
It’s not easy, and as I’m the captain there’s a lot of administration to do. I have to take the training sessions as well, so it is a big time commitment. But it’s about being as efficient as possible. It forces me to train too, and I’m probably in better shape this year than previously.
Who was your inspiration growing up?
Back at home in Portsmouth we had a local hero, called Mike East, who my coach used to train. He left to train in London and two years later went on to finish 6th in the 1500m at the Athens Olympics in 2004.
What do you think it will be like competing inside the Olympic Stadium?
There isn’t an athletics stadium like it in the UK. It’s got 80,000 seats and it’s going to be incredible to run in – it beats Crystal Palace hands down. It is the biggest event I’ve ever taken part in, and even at half capacity it will be an amazing experience. It’s sold out, so there should be a great atmosphere.
As captain, what are your expectations of success for the team?
Picking up BUCs points would be excellent. We also have the potential to make a couple of finals with Cathy Ansell in the Women’s 10,000m, and Christopher Bannon in the Men’s 5,000m.
What have you heard about the stadium – is it a particularly fast track?
I’ve heard it’s been designed to shield it from the wind, and they wanted to make it as hard a track as possible. That hardness means it’s not very good for training –it is quite tough on the legs and doesn’t yield at all. But that’s good for high performances, as the energy the runners put into the track goes back into the legs and propels you forward.
Who do you think is a good Olympic medal hope in Team GB?
There are several athletes who have a really good chance. Dai Greene, Mo Farrah (Men’s 10,000m), Jessica Ennis (Heptathlon), and Phillips Idowu (Triple Jump) are all up there. Of course, there is pressure in being the ‘home hope’, but that’s balanced with the advantage of knowing the track and facilities. At the Sydney Games in 2000, Australia had a record medal haul which was put down to their familiarity with the facilities.
Have you got any Olympic tickets?
I did apply but didn’t get any. My uncle did manage to get some tickets for the penultimate day for the Men’s 10,000m final and Women’s 200m final, so I’m hoping there’s a chance he will take me.
— Simon Watts, Communications and Development