5 October 2009
Niall Flannery is adamant he won’t fade into the wilderness at Loughborough University – despite becoming one of a long list of potential future Olympians at the well-known sports development centre.
The 18-year-old will share the track with the likes of world silver medallist Lisa Dobriskey and European Under-23 100m champion Harry Aikines-Aryeetey at Loughborough – but insists that will only inspire him.
Flannery looked nailed on for a medal at the European Junior Championships back in July after travelling to Serbia ranked the second fastest in the 400m hurdles with a personal best of 51.07seconds.
Disaster struck when he hit the penultimate hurdle in the final and fell from first to fourth – but with his new-found help at Loughborough – Flannery believes the same thing won’t happen again.
“It is going to be an important time for me now having made the switch and starting at university but I am confident I can do just as well,” said Flannery.
“I am still going to do some work with Jared Deacon but obviously I will work more with Nick Dakin now at Loughborough.
“But even though it is a change it shouldn’t be too bad because the two coaches have been talking to each other for quite a few months now.
“They have spoken about the different training plans I have been doing and what sort of person I am and things so it should be fine.”
Meanwhile, heptathlete-turned-hurdler Ben Reynolds has vowed to tap up top coach Malcolm Arnold in a bid to come of age on the track next year.
The 19-year-old failed to make the 110m hurdles final at the European Junior Championships but was given an end of season boost after a chance encounter with Arnold.
Arnold famously coached Olympic silver medal Colin Jackson and more recently David Greene – who finished seventh in the 400m hurdles at the World Championships in August.
A persistent shoulder injury – which will be operated on in November – has seen Reynolds ditch the heptathlon for good and with the help of Arnold he has vowed to make an impact in the hurdles.
“Malcolm saw me competing and he told me that he thinks I have got a lot of potential which was really encouraging to hear,” said Reynolds.
“He wants me to come and do some training with him which would be great as he is one of the best coaches in the world.
“I think there’s going to be quite a big improvement from me at senior level as opposed to junior as the height of the hurdles will suit me more.”
Fellow UKA Heroes, sponsored by Original Source, Abdi Ahmed and Ross Murray will both switch their focus away from the track and onto cross country over the winter.
Ahmed, 18, has endured a frustrating season with a catalogue of injuries ruling him out of the European Junior Championships but he is confident that will change before the turn of the year.
Murray has had his fair share of injuries and setbacks as well but did board the plane to Serbia only to finish sixth in the 1500m final.
The 18-year-old finished 16th at the European Cross Country Championships last year – and despite his track woes believes his fortunes will change in the coming months.
“I would love to the Europeans this year – which are in Dublin – and get a medal,” said Murray. “If I do as well as I can and keep progressing the way that I have been then I see no reason why I can’t.
“I just want to keep moving forward next season and do well at the bigger senior competitions which will provide good markers for where I am at.”
High jumper Alan McKie has set his sights firmly on qualifying for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 12 months time.
The 20-year-old missed out on the European Under-23 Championships in Lithuania this year and will be joined by just Jordan McGrath in bidding to board the plane to Delhi.
McGrath has spent almost all of the 2009 season on the treatment table after tearing his hamstring at the Loughborough International in May – but is slowly returning to full fitness.
The Birchfield Harrier will make the jump up from junior to senior competition next year and is adamant he can start challenging British frontrunners Martyn Rooney and Michael Bingham.
He said: “The 400m is a very hard, strong area within England and if I can grab a relay position I’ll be very happy and who’s to say that I can’t push on and grab a spot in the single events.”
UKA Heroes project sponsored by Original Source is a successful initiative which offers financial support to talented young athletes who are working towards the 2012 and 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.