UK junior record-holder Andy Pozzi is quickly gaining experience against the world’s best in the sprint hurdles
One of the youngest members of the team for the IAAF World Indoor Championships, 19-year-old Andy Pozzi says this winter of racing has been vital for his development.
The UK indoor 60m hurdles champion has taken a quarter of a second off his best this season, having clocked 7.62 on three occasions, most recently in the heats at the Aviva Grand Prix last Saturday.
Despite running just 7.71 in the final, the Stratford upon Avon AC athlete counted it as further useful experience.
“I had a terrible start in the heats but I came back really strongly,” he said. “In the final I felt like I got out a little bit better, but I hit too many hurdles.”
The European junior silver medallist, who clocked a best of 13.73 last season, suddenly found himself lining up one lane inside world 110m hurdles record-holder Dayron Robles with 2004 Olympic champion Liu Xiang two lanes outside.
“I need to get used to racing the guys running these times because if I’m going to make major championships I’m going to be racing them,” he said. “It’s really good ahead of the World Indoors to try to get that experience. It’s just unfortunate that I didn’t use it slightly better.
“The indoors are important. To get some experience at senior level in my first year in the age group, particularly with it being Olympic year and just in general, it’s great because it’s getting me in there in the mix nice and early.”
At the shorter, indoor distance, he is now the third-fastest ever British teenager behind Colin Jackson (7.55) and Jon Ridgeon (7.61), and Pozzi believes he can replicate his form outdoors.
“On the flat I’m a quick sprinter but I’m not a quick starter,” he said. “I think 110m will lend itself slightly better to me than 60m but that remains to be seen.”
The rivalry with a batch of other up-and-coming sprint hurdlers is also inspiring him, he said. Like Pozzi, many are trained by Malcolm Arnold, who coached former world champion Jackson and guides world champion Dai Greene.
“Those I train with – the likes of William Sharman, Lawrence Clarke, Jack Meredith – we get that level of competition in training so it brings us all on much more.”
This year’s Olympics may be the focal point for so many athletes, but he is looking far beyond that.
He said: “If I qualify and go, it’ll be my first senior major championships outdoors, so whereas for a lot of people it will be the crowning moment of their career, I’m still learning, I’m still developing, so while it will be an amazing experience, I’ll hopefully have more Olympics.”