World Championships remains the goal after five months on a Wattbike
Having only returned in April from eight months off running, Michael Rimmer has amazed himself with his return to form.
The 800m runner clocked an IAAF World Championships qualifier of 1:45.75 in Madrid on July 11 and then ran 1:47.25 three days later in Lucerne. He is next set to race at this weekend’s Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games as he seeks a time of 1:46.00 or quicker on the eve of the selection deadline for Beijing.
Rimmer sustained a stress fracture in his back just above the sacrum in spring 2014 and, after trying to “manage” the situation last season, had a pioneering operation last autumn. For five months he did all his training on a Wattbike and feels that eventually he was raising his lactic levels as high as he would be doing on the track.
Easing his way back with short runs, in May he resumed threshold sessions. He said of those: “I was running almost as quickly as I’d ever run and that was when I was thinking, ‘Blimey, this is better than expected. Let’s see what we can do in June and July.’
After finishing second at the trials to Kyle Langford, in Madrid he went halfway to gaining the two qualifiers which would guarantee selection for Beijing.
“It’s been a pleasant surprise how quickly I’ve been able to come back so far,” he said.
Having made improvements to his running technique over the past couple of years, he added: “I’m more efficient with my biomechanics. I may not be as fit as I was before, but I’m covering the ground quicker.”
Despite an unenviable injury record, Rimmer has clocked 1:46.13 or quicker every one of the last 11 seasons, but since a World Youth fourth in 2003, all he has had to show for his undoubted talent shown as a youngster is European silver in 2010.
Nevertheless, the 29-year-old is inspired by Kelly Holmes, who fought through years of injury to win 800m and 1500m Olympic gold at the age of 34 in Athens.
“As a youngster everyone was expecting big things and I’m hoping I can still fulfil that,” he said. “My training age is pretty young, first from picking up injuries, and also, I didn’t really start training properly until I was 20-22 so I think there’s room for improvement,
“I’d like to carry on until Tokyo (2020 Olympics) when I’ll be 34. Whether I emulate Kellly I don’t know, but in my mind there’s no reason why not.
“Just having that one European medal wouldn’t be indicative of the talent I had growing up.”
» See the July 23 edition of AW for a four-page preview to this weekend’s Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games