22nd May 2009

Lewis-Francis Aims For Trials


22 May 2009

Olympic gold medallist Mark Lewis-Francis is set to return to the track this summer after a year blighted by injury.

The Midlands man has earmarked the Aviva World Trials & UK Championships in seven weeks time as a major stepping stone in his quest for further international glory. 

The 26-year-old, who was part of Great Britain’s gold medal winning 4x100m relay quartet at the Athens Olympics in 2004, will line up at the UKA event which takes place at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham on 10, 11 and 12 July.

Lewis-Francis said: “This is a big year for me.  I injured my Achilles tendon last year and was forced to sit out the entire season.  It was very hard to sit at home and watch the Olympic Games on TV and see Usain Bolt dominate the sprinting events and smash the world records.”

“I have spent the winter rehabbing and training hard under my new coach Linford Christie.  We are just back from warm weather training in California.  Things are getting better day by day and I am enjoying my athletics.”

“I will open my season in June with a few small meets to try to get back into racing mode.  I hope to be able to race internationally by July.” 

The Birchfield Harrier has set his sights on qualification for the Aviva Great Britain & Northern Ireland team set to compete at the World Championships in Berlin in August – and a winning performance on home soil is paramount to that quest.

He said: “The Aviva World Trials & UK Championships is an important meet for me this year.  It will be in my home city in Birmingham on the Alexander Stadium track where I trained most of my life. 

“There is great depth in British sprinting these days so making the team will be the goal for us all.  In the past I have always made the team for the Major Championships when I competed in the Trials.  

“The meet in Birmingham will be extra special as it will be my first time to run there since the death of my former coach and mentor Steve Platt who guided me to Olympic and World Junior gold medals.”

Lewis-Francis was the youngest ever winner of the national championships when he took the title as a 19-year-old back in 2002 – just two years after clinching 100m gold at the World Junior Championships in Santiago.

The Walsall born sprinter followed that up with glory at the Olympics in 2004, becoming Britain’s youngest ever gold medallist since Berlin in 1936 as he anchored the sprint relay team home in first place. Now, with his injury worries behind him, he’s ready to taste victory once again:

“I won the gold medal in the 4x100m in Athens in 2004 and it was my aim to get an individual medal in the 100m at the Olympics in 2008.  That was not to be so I have to look forward now to the 2012 Olympic Games on home soil in London.”

“At the last IAAF World Championships in Osaka I was ninth, just missing the final by one place.  It would be great to get in the final this year in Berlin.”

Adult tickets for the Aviva World Trials & UK Championships start at £10 with family passes available at £32.  Tickets can be purchased online via www.uka.org.uk/uka-major-events  and by phone on 0800 055 60 56.