Dai Greene (Malcolm Arnold), Britain’s 400m hurdles World Champion, is looking forward to taking on the best crop of British 400m hurdlers in a generation when he lines up in an ultra-competitive field at the Aviva 2012 Trials on Friday 22 and Saturday 23 June at the Birmingham Alexander Stadium.
Greene, who is targeting his first Olympic Games, will need to secure a top-two finish in the 400m hurdles final in order to guarantee his place on the British squad. With four further Brits already having posted the Olympic A standard time this season, Greene is braced for an event of major importance to his Olympic ambitions.
“The Aviva 2012 Trials will be one of the biggest races of my season. To compete in front of a home crowd at my home Olympics is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I will be doing everything that I can to make sure that I am on that team, beginning with Trials.”
The Swansea Harrier has had a relatively slow start to the season by his own high standards - clocking 48.96s and 48.98s in his opening two races to date – but he is a recognised championship specialist and will enter the Aviva 2012 Trials as favourite. He is wary of the threat posed by a hungry chasing pack, however, and believes that his race will be one not to miss in Birmingham.
“The 400m hurdles will be one of the most fiercely contested events at Trials. With five of us already having the A standard this year, no-one can take their place for granted. It will be an unmissable final - I wish I could watch the race myself.”
The 26-year-old will face competition for Olympic places from Britain’s strongest crop of 400m hurdlers for a generation, with Greene’s talented 20-year-old training partner Jack Green (Malcolm Arnold), as well as Nathan Woodward (Nick Dakin), Richard Yates (Stephen Ball) and Rhys Williams (Dan Pfaff) all having run sub-49.50s races this summer.
Far from feeling pressure ahead of facing a World Champion at Trials, defending British 400m hurdles champion Woodward claims to enjoy the struggle for places and times amongst the group of leading Brits.
The 22-year-old said: “I do thrive on rivalry – the standard in the 400m hurdles is so high that it almost encourages everyone else to raise their game. It’s not like it has been in the past where there have been one or two people. There are four, five, six people fighting for three Olympic spots.
“Everyone’s raising their game and being forced to get the best out of themselves in training and in competition. You can’t get complacent as you know all your rivals are training as hard as they can. My aim is to finish top two to put myself in the reckoning for automatic selection and doing all I can to be in the Olympic team.”
Welshman and former British number one Rhys Williams, meanwhile, has shown early signs of rekindling the form that saw him secure silver at the European Championships and bronze at the Commonwealth Games in 2010 behind Dai Greene, whilst Richard Yates posted his best time in four years to secure the A standard in Belgium last month.
Many will favour Kent athlete Jack Green, who as a teenager last year was a World Championships semi-finalist in Daegu, to be Dai Greene’s leading threat at the Aviva 2012 Trials. For his part, the European under-23 champion has set his eyes on nothing less than a spot at the Olympic Games as he heads into the Trials showdown.
“Those top two places are what everyone is going to be after. I’ve got to be confident in what I can do and prove that I can take one of those slots.”
The men’s 400m hurdles heats and final are scheduled for Friday 22 and Saturday 23 June.
Back the team and watch over 750 of Britain’s best athletes in action at the Aviva 2012 Trials at the Birmingham Alexander Stadium from 22nd-24th June. For tickets visit www.uka.org.uk/aviva-series or call 08000 55 60 56.