22 June 2011
European and Commonwealth champion hurdler Dai Greene has set his sights on becoming British record holder this summer, with two big opportunities on home soil when he lines up at the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix and Aviva London Grand Prix as part of his preparations for World Championships glory.
The 25-year-old will look to stamp his authority on the track ahead of this year’s IAAF World Championships by breaking the British Record that has stood for almost 20 years.
Greene will have his first chance at Kriss Akabusi’s long-standing British benchmark of 47.82, set in August 1992, when he lines up at Birmingham Alexander Stadium on 10 July, before returning for a second attempt at the record at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre four weeks later as part of his final preparations for the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea later in August.
“I certainly have the British record in my sights now and came really close at the Continental Cup in Split last year,” said Greene.
“I met Kriss Akabusi at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards last year and he knows it won’t be long now! My priority is to win medals, but if I want to be the best, I have to be breaking records and it would be great to do that in front of my home fans in a packed-out stadium.
“I saw the crowd’s reaction when Mo Farah broke the European record at the NIA back in February and I would love to experience that buzz. The crowd was electric.
“If I have the whole stadium behind me, I'm confident that I can go out there and really be in with a chance of breaking the record, which has stood now for 19 years.”
Akabusi first claimed the record in 1990 with a run of 47.92, eclipsing the previous British best of 48.12 set by former World Record holder David Hemery at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. Two years later Akabusi again lowered the mark to 47.82 en route to bronze at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.
But having seen only two men hold the record for a staggering 42 years, Akabusi is desperate to see the record fall and has tipped Greene as the man to do it.
“He can break my record, without any shadow of a doubt,” said Akabusi. “He’s a young man going places with great athletics pedigree. He’s a top championship performer. Last year was such a great year for him and he already came so close to breaking my record then.
“He’s managed low 48s and high 47s so many times that you can’t help but feel it’s a matter of when and not if. He’s the real deal and I can say without any doubt that he’ll be the next British record holder. And it won’t take very long.”
This summer sees Greene return to the event that saw him collect double gold in Barcelona and New Delhi in a whirlwind 2010, his inclusion in the 2011 Aviva Series the latest in a long line of world-class Brits, including Mo Farah, Phillips Idowu and Christine Ohuruogu, due to compete in this summer’s domestic Samsung Diamond League bouts.
The 400m hurdler opened his series campaign late last month when he came second in Rome and the Welshman is intent on using the upcoming British meets as vital cogs in his pre-Daegu preparations.
He said: “It’s so important for the British team to get good preparation for the World Championships in Daegu later in the summer, and these two meets fall perfectly into place.
“I think a lot of athletes will look at these two meets and say to themselves that they are a good opportunity for them to really put down a marker. From that perspective the crowd is going to witness some brilliant performances.”
While Greene has not yet topped the podium in a Samsung Diamond League competition, he is no stranger to success at both Birmingham and Crystal Palace.
He was crowned national champion at the Birmingham Alexander Stadium in both 2010 and 2009 and made his first ever podium in the competition with his third place at last year’s Aviva London Grand Prix.
And Greene believes the prospect of capacity stadiums at both events can drive him to first place in 2011 and has called on the people of both cities to get behind all the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland stars.
He said: “I’m really looking forward to racing at both the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix and the Aviva London Grand Prix this summer. For any athlete, you always want to be racing in front of your home crowd and I can’t wait to do that, especially after winning the Europeans and Commonwealths last year. I certainly aim to come away from both races with a victory for Great Britain.
“I always love the atmosphere generated from a British crowd. There’s always such a buzz on home soil, I’ve competed really well at the Alexander Stadium in the past, so hopefully I can take some of that fortune with me. I’m really happy with the way I have started my season in both Rome and New York, this is a really important year for me to make my mark on the world stage and build towards achieving my goals for London 2012.
“It is great for the Samsung Diamond League to be held in the city of Birmingham for the very first time and hopefully it will be a sell-out, which says huge things for the people of Birmingham. As for London, well, it has so much history; the London Grand Prix always has some big head-to-head races. It’s always one of the most sought after events on the whole calendar and this year promises to be no different.”
Greene joins an all-star cast of British and international athletes set to head to the UK this summer, adding his name to a growing list of stars already signed to the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix and Aviva London Grand Prix meets. Mo Farah (5000m), Asafa Powell (100m), Tyson Gay (100m), Mark Lewis-Francis (100m), Christine Ohuruogu (400m), Sanya Richards-Ross (400m), Jenny Meadows (800m), David Oliver (110m hurdles), Phillips Idowu (triple jump), Andreas Thorkildsen (javelin throw), Kim Collins (100m), Blanka Vlasic (high jump) and Carmelita Jeter (100m, 200m) will all be in action in the UK this summer, fast building as the marquee destination of the global league series.
The Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix will be at the Alexander Stadium on 10 July, the Aviva UK Trials and Championships will be at the Birmingham Alexander Stadium 29-31 July and the Aviva London Grand Prix will be at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre 5-6 August. For tickets or more information go to uka.org.uk/aviva-series or phone 08000 556 056