After serious injury and illness struggles, the former world indoor champion is back in business
Richard Kilty admits he was “really nervous” about getting back into competition following a year of being “bombarded” by injury and illness but, with a few sprint races now under his belt, the 28-year-old’s confidence is returning at precisely the right time.
The double European indoor and former world indoor champion over 60m had to contend with glandular fever, Achilles problems and an excruciating fracture to his finger which resulted from him accidentally trapping his hand in a door during 2017.
That injury ruled him out of the IAAF World Championships in London last summer but Kilty is now targeting another global showpiece being staged in Britain – next month’s IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham.
With the British trials fast approaching, Kilty has been in action in France, Dusseldorf and Madrid in recent days, twice running precisely the qualifying standard of 6.63.
“I was really nervous, with not having competed for so long, and it was a bit of a strange feeling getting back down on the start line”
That was the time he set in his first outing since June, in Val de Reuil, and already Kilty is finding the positives ahead of his attempt to claim the title he won as a 66-1 outsider in Sopot four years ago.
“I only started back training in October so that’s not been much preparation,” he says.
“I was really nervous, with not having competed for so long, and it was a bit of a strange feeling getting back down on the start line, but it was a decent opener. When I won the world championships in 2014, my first race was only 6.68 so I’m ahead of where I was then.
“There was lots to improve on from the race, it was a bit ragged, but it was a decent start.”
The times are testament to Kilty’s natural turn of speed but also impressive when it emerges that, with him being based in his native Teesside, he rarely has the chance to practice on an indoor track.
“The big reason for us staying in Teesside is that we’ve got a 16-month-old son now and when we train we’ve got great family support from my dad, my mum and my brother,” says Kilty, whose wife – Lithuanian triple jumper Dovile Dzindzaletaite – is part of his training group. “If we were based somewhere else in the country we just wouldn’t have that same support and it would make training really tough for both of us.
“We don’t have an indoor stadium here. We have an indoor sports hall and an outdoor track. We struggle with facilities and we’ve been speaking to Stockton council about potentially building an indoor stadium and bringing athletics to the area more. It’s just been announced that the Great North CityGames mile is coming to Stockton, as well as the Great Tees 10k, so hopefully that will help.
“But I’m a world and double European indoor champion and I don’t even train on an indoor track. It’s crazy. I do lots of hill runs, lots of hill sprints and occasionally we’ll travel to Gateshead to use the indoor track there but sometimes you’ve just got put up with the cold, get wrapped up, get outside and crack on with a session.”
It will be intriguing to see how Kilty, a man with plenty of experience in how to succeed indoors, will fare when the competition moves outside later in the year – particularly when he reveals his plans for the summer.
“I’m going to put a huge emphasis on the 200m,” says the man who has a personal best of 10.01 for 100m and 20.34 for 200m. “In 2012 and 2013 that was my primary event before I won the World Indoors at the 60m and now I’m going to give myself a real fighting chance over the 200m.
“Now I’m going to give myself a real fighting chance over the 200m”
“I think it’s actually a better event for me than the 100m if I completely commit to it so the European Championships in Berlin will be the main aim for me.
“After the indoor season I’ll give myself a week’s holiday and then I’ll give myself some tough background training and I’ll get ready for outdoors.
“I’ll probably use the end of March, the whole of April and the first couple of weeks in May to go back into some winter training and get some background work in, just so I can last the full season out.
“That’s something I’ve never done before. I’ve always rushed into the outdoor season of a great indoor season and I’ve lost fitness halfway through so I want to make sure I don’t make that same mistake again this year.”
» To read a wide-ranging interview with Richard Kilty about his painful return to action and his hopes for the indoor season, pick up the latest issue of Athletics Weekly – out now