5th October 2018
FUTURES IN FOCUS - JAMES WEAVER
For 110m hurdler James Weaver (coach: Laura Turner-Alleyne, club: Enfield & Haringey), 2018 has been a topsy-turvy year in his development.
A pelvic injury sustained in the 60m hurdles heats in Bratislava in January cut short his season before it had even begun, but after returning to action in August, has ended the season strongly following victories at Manchester International, London Inter Club Challenge and a second place finish at Ospiti Di Gente Unica in Brugnera, Italy.
After returning to form following a lengthy lay-off, the 21-year-old is hoping to rediscover the enjoyment that competing brings with it and shake off all his injury problems and get a solid season under his belt.
He said: “This season has been one of those things. The injury flared up at the start of December ahead of the race at the end of January and I knew heading in it wasn’t right.
“It was one of the strangest competitions I’ve ever done. I wasn’t able to warm up properly, I was on the start line but it didn’t feel as though I was actually there. I did the race and couldn’t walk afterwards.
“This isn’t the first time I’ve had that scenario. In 2015 as a second-year junior I blew out my knee in a freak training accident. I fell over and bust my PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) which killed the season.
“I’ve missed seasons before, I’ve come back and run faster, but at the time I don’t think I realised how difficult mentally this rehab process would be compared to 2015.
“I’ve thought a lot recently about the mental side of the sport and if you’d have asked me what 2019 holds at the start of the year I’d have said ‘I want to win this & that’ but I’m not joking when I say I just want an injury-free season and to enjoy my athletics again.”
Weaver fell into athletics off the back of a PE lesson where he excelled when the hurdles were placed in front of him. Despite not taking up training properly until his final two years of school, the Enfield & Haringey man enjoyed success at local level, before earning international acclaim in 2016 with his first British vest at the Mannheim Gala.
He went into the weekend in Germany having set a personal best 13.53 the month prior in Bedford and shaved 0.2 seconds from that time, returning to the UK ranked joint-second in the world.
Since then, he has represented the British team in the finals of the IAAF World U20 Championships and the European U23 Championships, both of which were held in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
“That day when the hurdles were placed in front of us I thought ‘no’. But our teachers showed us all the technique and I could do it really easily. They entered me into all the competitions at district level and I won all of those really easily, then the county championships, I didn’t train and I was fuming because I didn’t win,” he joked.
I started training seriously in my last two years of high school and it spiralled from there. Mannheim was when I got my first British vest and that whole weekend was a whirlwind. I went into it with a PB of 13.53 and came out of it ranked joint-second in the world in 13.33, it was a bit like ‘what just happened?’
“It really hit me because I thought if I could get a fair run at that season injury-wise, I could really do something but ended up tearing my quad in the semi-finals at world juniors and finishing seventh.
“European U23s was a funny one because I tore my quad six weeks before the season started and it was a hotchpotch job to see if we could salvage something. I found my feet late in the season and I was doing things I’d never done before. I was running super-quick but in the final it just didn’t quite come together.
“I ran a PB and everyone was telling me I should be pleased but in the back of my head I know I could have run quicker. U23s felt like a shot at redemption after world juniors but it wasn’t meant to be. I came into form really late in the season and then my quad started playing up again.”
Weaver’s exploits led to him earning a place on the British Athletics Futures programme, which has helped to support his training and more recently, his rehabilitation.
The programme has been of major benefit to Weaver and having support and faith invested in him that he can compete amongst elite athletes is something that has given him more drive to succeed in 2019.
“For me it’s been massively helpful because of all the injuries I’ve had. The medical cover has been superb and they have helped my coach Laura (Turner-Alleyne) with coaching education and for me, the medical side.
“They’ve enabled me to see the sports psychologist this year as well which has been really beneficial throughout the injury process and it’s been great to have that available.
“It means a lot because it gives you the feeling of believing in yourself. My coach believes in me but it’s nice to have external people that also believe in me. They don’t have anything to do with me, but they believe in my ability and that one day can I compete at the top level,” he added.
There is added support for the Londoner from his parents, who watch his progress from the stands but Weaver admits they don’t understand fully what he does.
For him, he feels having them able to watch him competing at various meets internationally and domestically is a reward to them as much as him for their efforts in getting him to where he is.
“I’ve been doing athletics for so many years but he doesn’t really get it. I tell him I’m competing at the weekend and he’ll be like ‘oh right that’s cool’ or I’ll come in and he’ll ask how training was, I’ll explain it and you can see his face get confused because he doesn’t get it.
“My mum came to world juniors and then both of them came to Under-23s last year. My mum can’t watch, she comes to all my competitions and stands in the car park.
“But it’s nice because it’s a real family affair and they’ve helped me out massively since I first started competing, driving me here, there and everywhere. It’s nice for them now to see me getting into bigger comps and they can see the progression,” he added.