Stratford’s Pozzi on a high as he jets out to Rio

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Sprint hurdler Andrew Pozzi reacts with delight after clocking 13.19 seconds in the Anniversary Games in London.

STRATFORD AC’s Andrew Pozzi reckons he is in the best possible shape for the countdown to the Rio Olympic Games, writes Colin Stoner.

Pozzi continued his warm-up for next month’s Olympics by becoming the fourth fastest British 110m hurdler of all time.

Only Colin Jackson, Tony Jarrett and Will Sharman have run quicker than Pozzi after he clocked a personal best 13.19 seconds in his heat in the Muller Anniversary Games at the London Olympic Stadium.

However, after suffering cramp, Pozzi erred on the side of caution and withdrew from the final.

Pozzi insisted it was a precautionary move rather than any nagging worry and he will head off to Brazil next Tuesday in the best possible mindset.

“I’m delighted to have run a PB but I decided that I couldn’t risk injury with Rio only a few days away but I’m confident I’ll be fit, healthy and ready in Rio,” said Pozzi.

“I’m thoroughly looking forward to the Olympics now. It was great to run at PB last week so I’m more than happy with my form.”

Pozzi, a former Alcester Grammar School pupil, revealed he had not initially planned to run in the Anniversary Games because it was so close to the Olympics.

But his change of mind reaped its rewards.

The 24-year-old sprint hurdler has suffered well-documented injury issues in the past four years after 2012 Olympics was shattered by injury and has taken a pragmatic approach to his preparation towards Rio.

After winning the recent UK Championship he has continued to run personal bests and felt his stunning run in his London heat, alongside world record holder Aries Merritt, was long overdue.

“I had planned my schedule at the start of the year and London wasn’t going to be part of my plans because it was a few weeks from Rio,” said Pozzi.

“But my PB in London shows my race sharpness is where it needs to be as well as my fitness.

“It’s been frustrating in a few races that I haven’t clocked quicker times but in the hurdles any little mistake makes a big difference. I was a lot smoother in the second part of the race in London and I was delighted to go under 13.2 seconds.”

The look on his face as he crossed the line showed his meticulous but cautious preparation had been justified as he saw 13.19 seconds flash up on the timing scoreboard.

The mouthwatering final that included Frenchman Dimitri Bascou, the newly-crowned European champion, was scheduled for only two hours after the heat and in that time Pozzi had a recurrence of the cramp that scuppered his European championship medal hopes.

However, Pozzi, who trains at Bath, says the medical staff think they have sussed out the issue and he says he will such worry going to Rio.

He will leave the UK on Tuesday to fly to a holding camp in Belo Horizonte. His 110m hurdles event then starts on 15th August.

“In hurdles, more so than any other event, you can only focus on one round at a time. One mistake can cost you and then that’s the end of it,” he added.

“It’s the heats first and hopefully I can get into the final and then think about challenging for the medals. But I won’t be getting ahead of myself.”