The sprint hurdler has switched allegiance from Great Britain to Italy
Gianni Frankis has become the latest British athlete to switch allegiance after he announced he had become eligible for Italy.
The sprint hurdler’s decision comes shortly after both Sean Safo-Antwi and Julia Bleasdale, both of who have competed for Great Britain, transferred their allegiances to Ghana and Germany respectively.
Having competed at the IAAF World Championships in the 110m hurdles at the age of 21 back in 2009, Frankis has struggled to kick on from his early promise, and now at almost 28 he feels the time is right to make the decision he says he has mulled over in the past.
The Anglo-Italian had grown frustrated at a lack of chances afforded to athletes outside of the top bracket and believes the chances afforded with a switch of nationality will provide him with new horizons and a refreshed impetus to kick on.
He said: “I felt my opportunities in Britain were diminishing. Not just mine. A lot of athletes’ opportunities are getting worse.
“I thought it was a fairer way of doing things in Italy. I hope that I can get more opportunity there.
“International competition is the biggest thing. If you can make a name for yourself internationally then you’ll inevitably get more opportunities at a slightly lower level as well. Running at much smaller meets all the time is not always the best place to get your best times.”
Experiencing the “all-or-nothing” feeling of losing funded support from UK Athletics is something Frankis says drives a number of athletes towards quitting point.
The former British international hurdler feels the support network he will be able to operate with as part of the Italian athletics community – so crucial for an athlete who has suffered from multiple injuries over recent years – offers him freedom which will be vital when it comes to rediscovering both form and confidence.
Frankis said: “It’s been a really tough time mentally more than anything in the last three years. I’ve obviously not been in a great physical shape but I’ve been battered even more mentally. I feel that I’m getting back but it’s something I’ll need to build up with a bit of time.
“It’s been an indoor season which again had a small blip in the middle with an injury. If I can get a prolonged run of good form I do believe I can get back.”
What felt like a difficult decision at the time is something that Frankis says he now reflects overwhelmingly positively on.
“It’s something that in my own mind was a bigger decision,” he said. “It didn’t seem so big once it was done. It’s turned out that I’m just really swapping vest colour.”