David He­mery on sprint hurdlers be­ing too ten­ta­tive to tackle 400m hur­dles

Athletics Weekly - - News -


DAVID HE­MERY be­lieves to­day’s ath­letes are strug­gling to match the 400m hur­dles time he set half a cen­tury ago be­cause not enough tal­ented sprint hurdlers have the ap­petite for the hard work in­volved in step­ping up to the one-lap race.

At the Mex­ico Olympics in 1968 he ran a world record of 48.12 to win gold. All these years later only two Brits –

Kriss Ak­abusi with 47.82 and Dai Greene with 47.84 – have beaten the mark and He­mery says more ath­letes with a back­ground of 110m hur­dles need to give it a go.

Speak­ing at the Sports Jour­nal­ists’ As­so­ci­a­tion awards where he re­ceived a spe­cial pres­i­dent’s award, He­mery said: “I would still be in the medals at cham­pi­onships with the times I was run­ning. But to be able to run that kind of time af­ter three days of com­pe­ti­tion takes a mas­sive amount of en­durance.

“To be suc­cess­ful you need a com­bi­na­tion of be­ing a de­cent hur­dler and be­ing will­ing to do a mam­moth amount of work. The ones who are su­per-fast sprint hurdlers of­ten don’t want to do the work it takes to do the 400 hur­dles.

“It was over 20 years be­fore Kriss Ak­abusi took my Bri­tish record. He had the speed on the flat but then he had to learn to hur­dle.”

He­mery also reck­ons he could have run faster. “I’m sorry I re­tired when I did but they told us that sprint­ers reached their peak at 24. The rea­son that was true was that there wasn’t any pro­fes­sional sup­port and peo­ple went out to work. So when I was 28 I was think­ing that I was four years past my sell by date but at the Mu­nich Olympics there were peo­ple in their early thir­ties run­ning PBs. But I don’t know what times I could have run if I had car­ried on.”

Sports Jour­nal­ists’ As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Pa­trick Collins (right) presents David He­mery with an award ear­lier this month

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