Track star Andy back in business
SATISFIED Andy Vernon admitted he has done himself justice after kicking off Aldershot and Farnham District AC’s Commonwealth challenge on the track with a top-class performance in the mens’ 5,000m in Glasgow.
The 28-year-old completed a miracle return from injury to run his second fastest time ever of 13:22.98 and lead the British contingent home in sixth place.
Vernon’s punishing preGames schedule had been limited largely to cross training after suffering a pubic fracture scare which at one stage threatened to rule him out of the event altogether.
But the Nic Bideau-trained athlete was never overawed by a high-class field and put in a strong performance, sticking with lead group of seven up to the four-kilometre mark before he and teammate Tom Farrell fell away with his lack of fitness taking its toll.
Typically, Vernon came back strongly with an excellent final 400m without improving on his sixth place, but he admitted afterwards it was a performance which offered plenty of encouragement when he doubles up in the 5,000m and 10,000m at next month’s European Championships.
“[The race] was actually fairly good,” he told the News & Mail after the race. “It was better than I had expected, my last six weeks coming into this hasn’t been great, I’ve just been doing a lot of cross training unfortunately.
“I knew I wasn’t in 13.11 shape that’s for sure, but I still ran my second fastest time ever, so I’m really pleased about that. It just shows how much your winter training holds up for you and I’ve had a good year leading up to this race.
“The crowd were amazing, they lift you all the way around; you get to the point where it’s getting tough but they’re in your face and you can’t let them down.”
Vernon’s Hampden Park bow came just hours after AFD team-mate and close friend Ben Moreau helped kick of the athletics week with a 16th-place finish in the men’s marathon.
The Sydney-based athlete came home in a time of 2:16.50, including a strong final two kilometres which saw him make up three places having fallen back in the field around about the halfway mark.
Moreau said: “I thought I ran okay, it was a pretty quick second half considering we fell off the group, I was with the English guys not feeling particularly comfortable through half way but then I thought that’s the quickest I’ve been through half way in a marathon.
“I got a little isolated in the last 10km and it’s hard when you can’t see people ahead of you to stay on it, but a few came back in the last 3k or so it was great to pick up a couple of places then and then coming into that last 2k was amazing. The crowd were incredible.”
Flying the flag: AFD’s Andy Vernon was the leading British athlete home in sixth in the Mens’ 5,000m in Glasgow