After clocking 44.75 for 400m last year, the European silver medallist is looking for more of the same in 2015

Prior to 2014, the quickest Matt Hudson-Smith had run for 400m was 48.76. Admittedly, his focus up to that point had been on the shorter sprints, but in a breakthrough summer season his opener of 46.29 was quickly revised to 45.80 then 44.97 and finally 44.75 when storming to European silver behind GB team-mate Martyn Rooney in Zurich in August.

Now the 20-year-old’s focus is on consistency as he works towards his goal of competing at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing.

“We’re taking things step-by-step really,” says the Birchfield Harrier. “It’s more about consistency.

“I just want to be consistent because last year I was quite sporadic in that I ran 46 then 45 and then 44.

“The focus this winter was to just get stronger,” adds the European and Commonwealth 4x400m relay gold medallist. “Working with the strength and conditioning coach Michael Johnston has really helped.

“I didn’t have much of a strength background before. Last year was really the first year of doing weights and now Michael has introduced the programme I’ve come on in leaps and bounds. I’m happy with how everything is going.”

Hudson-Smith raced his first individual event of the year in Italy on Sunday, and individual it was as he ran his own race to clock 45.79 and win by 1.58 seconds. Having torn his hamstring while training in America, Hudson-Smith was happy with his 400m season opener and, now over that injury, he is looking forward to the season ahead.

“I just want to be consistent because last year I was quite sporadic”

After one or two smaller events, he moves on to race over 300m at the Sainsbury’s Birmingham Grand Prix on June 7 before the Oslo Diamond League on June 11 and the British Championships at the beginning of July. While he is eligible to compete at the European Under-23 Championships in Tallinn from July 9-12, the European junior medallist’s sights are set on being in China just over a month later.

“The first aim is to get on the plane,” he says. And then? “I don’t really look at times – it’s about medals in your career,” he adds.

“If I run quick times then so be it, but for me I just want to get to the championships and go from there.”

It will be interesting to see what the Tony Hadley-coached runner is capable of this year. The huge strides he made in 2014 were rewarded with top-tier National Lottery funding, for which he is incredibly grateful, and he says that everything seems to be boding well for the season ahead.

“It’s a massive morale boost, it gave me a lot of confidence,” Hudson-Smith says of the support. “I felt a sense of pride. It’s nice to be recognised by Lottery funding.”

Known for his laid-back nature, the former English Schools’ champion says there’s not been a huge difference in terms of his outlook now that he is getting paid to run.

“I like to keep the fun element to it but it has changed slightly in that I look at athletics more as a job instead of just something to do,” he explains.

“Now I’m getting paid to do something that I love. How many people can say that they do a job which they really enjoy? It has given me a bit more inspiration to go out and do it, whereas before I was like, ‘if it happens, it happens’.”

» Matthew Hudson-Smith is one of 1300 athletes supported by National Lottery funding so they can train full-time and access world-class coaching, facilities and medical support