Hurdler to compete for the first time since last July at Saturday’s Welsh Athletics regional championships

Rhys Williams says that securing a spot on the GB team for the IAAF World Championships in Beijing is his focus as he prepares to make his comeback following a four-month doping suspension.

The 2012 European 400m hurdles champion was withdrawn from Wales’ 2014 Commonwealth Games team along with fellow Welsh athlete Gareth Warburton after the pair failed doping tests in the run-up to the Glasgow event. At the time, both athletes said they had not knowingly taken any banned substances and later spoke out after the announcement of their bans warning athletes to not take any supplements.

A report published by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) earlier this year said it had been a contaminated supplement case and stated that the two athletes had been “at fault or negligent” but that they had not knowingly cheated.

Williams last competed at the Glasgow Grand Prix on July 11, 2014, and is set to return to competitive action at the Welsh Athletics regional championships on Saturday (May 23).

“All of that is now behind me and I can’t wait to get back on the track and into a racing situation,” said the 31-year-old.

“Training has been going well and my focus is firmly fixed on qualifying for the British team for the World Championships in Beijing. I’ve got five or six races in the diary in the build-up to the World trials.

“I’ve never been more determined to try to win a British vest and the experiences of the past year have only served to make me mentally stronger. I know it’s going to be a really tough battle to qualify for Beijing, but that’s the goal.”

Williams, who is due to contest the 400m hurdles at the South and East Wales event at Newport’s Spytty Park, added: “There are lots of good junior athletes coming through and I know I’m going to have to be running at my very best by the time the World trials come around.

“I’m not going to set the world alight this weekend, but it will be great to put down a marker, especially after being way from the track for so long. There was a time when I thought this might never be possible.

“I’m really excited and I’m coming into this first race after a massive block of hard training. Nothing has changed in my coaching team or the way I prepare, so I looking forward to getting back out there and running hard and fast.”

Williams has been second on the UK rankings for the past two summer seasons, his PB of 48.84 putting him behind Dai Greene in 2013, while his best of 48.95 last summer put him behind Niall Flannery.

The North Wales regional championships also takes place on Saturday in Bangor, while the West Wales event is to be held on Sunday at Neath.