19 April 2011
Hurdler David Oliver has set his sights on breaking the world record when he competes at the Aviva London Grand Prix on 5-6 August.
The 28-year-old Olympic bronze medallist – and world number one -returns to the scene of his 2010 triumph which saw him win his 14th and 15th consecutive races of the season and in-turn leave with the coveted Samsung Diamond League title.
Oliver’s 12.89secs personal best in Paris last July ensured he was the fastest hurdler on the planet in 2010 and the American is now undefeated over 27 straight races - with the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Doha 2010 the last time he was beaten in any competition.
He currently sits third on the all-time 110m hurdles times, 0.01secs behind former Olympic champion Liu Xiang and 0.02secs behind reigning Olympic and World Indoor champion Dayron Robles.
Now Oliver is targeting a successful summer for himself, first by setting a new world record at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre and then by taking gold at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu this August.
He said: “The Aviva London Grand Prix was a good event for me last year, it’s where I won the Diamond League title. Everyone was asking last year if I’d break the world record and I’m sure that if I stay healthy and maintain my form from 2010 that I will at some point, but I don’t concern myself with times. My goal this year is to arrive in Daegu fit and ready to race for gold.
“Last season was an unbelievable year for me and I hope I can build on that in 2011. I ran my fastest time ever indoors in February before I had to take a bit of time out, just as a precautionary measure, and it was a shame because I felt bad that I didn’t get to race for my fans in Birmingham but hopefully they might be able to head down to London this summer.
“I’m feeling really good, we’ve had a great training session in St Kitts and I ran 13.09 at the weekend, which I’m really pleased about. By the time I arrive in London I hope to be in peak condition and ready to put on a performance for the fans.”
While most of the pre-Daegu talk has surrounded Usain Bolt and his 100m colleagues, Oliver has tipped the hurdles event to eclipse the straight sprint.
He added: “I said it last year and I’ll say it again, but if myself, Liu (Xiang) and (Dayron) Robles are all fit and healthy and racing against each other I think the hurdles will be the showpiece event in Daegu, if not the London Olympics as well. “
And having managed to fit in time to travel to north London to watch his beloved Arsenal play the last time he was in the UK, Oliver wants to return the favour and has invited the Gunners to come and experience the trials and tribulations of a Diamond League athletics meet.
“I love competing in London, I always do. It’s a great city and you get a sense that folks are really starting to be bitten by Olympic fever. I finally managed to catch an Arsenal game when I was in town in February, maybe they’ll be able to see us in action at Crystal Palace this year because we’re racing a week earlier.”
Away from the track, reigning world, Olympic and European javelin champion, Andreas Thorkildsen, has revealed his plans to compete at the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix on 10 July.
The two-time Olympic champion, who also has a World and two European titles and a personal best of 91.59m, will compete at the Alexander Stadium when the city hosts its first ever Diamond League meet.
Thorkildsen is no stranger to competing in the UK, having previously thrown in Sheffield, Gateshead and Crystal Palace, but the 29-year-old admits he is looking forward to experience the atmosphere of a West Midlands crowd and has set his sights on breaking the stadium record of 88.14m, currently held by hero Steve Backley.
He said: “It’ll be fun competing in another part of the UK, and one with a strong athletics tradition. The Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix can expect a world-class javelin competition that’s for sure.
“Every athlete is building towards Daegu this year and I want to make sure I’m in the best shape possible to defend my title. The stadium record in Birmingham will be in my sights but making sure I get maximum Diamond Race points will be my aim.
“I was happy with how 2010 worked out for me, 2011 is about tweaking small things now and maintaining my performances.
“Steve Backley is one of my heroes and I know he holds the stadium record in Birmingham, so it would be special to be able to break that. We only got to compete against each other a few times, which included Sheffield, Gateshead and London, but never in Birmingham so this would kind of be the closest we ever will come with going head to head in this city.”
Thorkildsen’s good looks and unrivalled celebrity status in Norway have seen him labelled the ‘David Beckham’ of his home country, but the field star joked that he would not believe it until a Hollywood movie was made about him.
He added: “ It’s funny that I’ve been referred to as the ‘David Beckham’ of Norway and in some ways just goes to show how popular javelin is in my country but can you ever see there being a film called ‘Throw it like Thorkildsen’? It’s very flattering.”