25th February 2009
MIDWEEK SPEAK: NICK MCCORMICK
25 February 2009
Mo Farah may be blazing the trail, but Nick McCormick’s indoor form this winter has given equal ground for optimism for the future of men’s distance running in the UK.
The 27 year old Morpeth Harrier was this week named alongside Farah and Mark Draper to represent the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland Team in the 3000m at the European Indoor Championships in Turin on 6-8 March and will head to Italy in good heart after an excellent indoor campaign which has taken him to sixth in this year’s European rankings.
A year earlier McCormick had endured an unstable winter after splitting with long-term coach Lindsay Dunn, leaving him a little isolated in the North East, going through sessions designed by Southern-based coach Alan Storey and overseen by local coach Ian Whyte.
Then in January 2008, McCormick travelled to the UKA Warm Weather Training Camp in Potchefstroom, South Africa where he formed a good working relationship with UKA Performance Coach John Nuttall which was to lead to him relocating to Loughborough two months later to link up with Nuttall at the UKA High Performance Centre.
“John wanted me to go to Loughborough and have a look at his group and right away I felt there was a really positive atmosphere about them.” He said of a set of athletes that included Chris Thompson, Ryan McLeod, Emily Pidgeon, Catherine Riley and Laura Finucane. “I think for me, the talent has always been there, but the belief has now come back.”
It was a move that has paid dividends. For although McCormick fell short of reaching the Olympic Games in the 1500m last summer, he always felt his long-term future lay at the longer distances and this winter’s transition has shown it is the right move.
He opened his indoor campaign in Stuttgart on 7 February in a high-quality field headed by World 1500m and 5000m champion Bernard Lagat.
He said: “I was only really interested in getting the qualifying mark (7:55 for European Indoors). Lagat and the Kenyans were doing their stuff at the front, but I just settled in with Rui Silva (Portugal’s former Olympic 1500m bronze medallist) and he was operating at 7:49 pace, which was absolutely perfect.
“I just got a free ride and went past him with two laps to go. It was exactly what I needed, it was a good time, but didn’t take too much out of me.” He said of a fine 4th place finish in a PB of 7:52.74.
Full of confidence he returned to Britain and clinched his place in the GB & NI team with an impressive victory to win the Aviva European Trials and UK Championships in Sheffield, just two seconds slower than in Germany, despite front-running the whole race.
Maintaining his fine form, he placed third in the Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham, improving his PB to 7:50.50 in the same race where Mo Farah set a scorching new British record of 7:34.50. Indeed Farah’s form has provided McCormick with further inspiration. “Mo’s a good person to look up to. He had a bad Olympics and used that as a positive. He’s at 7:34 and that’s the sort of time I want to be running in the next few years.
“I’m aiming for Mo and I’m sure people like Scott Overall are aiming for me. We have the talent here in Britain and just have to start looking upwards rather than settling for where we are. If we do that, then maybe we can get back to where we were in the 70s and 80s.” He said.
Looking at the more immediate future, he is cautiously optimistic over next weekend’s championships. He said: “I have a few personal ambitions. I’ve gathered some tremendous experience since going to the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki and it’s about time I started using that experience. I know not to get stressed in the call room and how to get my eating and sleeping right.
“I’m going in as a bit of a dark horse. I have a realistic chance of getting into the top 5 and when you get up to that level, you obviously start thinking of medal possibilities. People will be wary of my 1500m speed too and in a slow race, well, you never know.”