JONATHAN BORLEE sounded a warning to Ireland’s David Gillick ahead of next week’s European championships in Barcelona where he expects to run another national record and claim Belgium’s first medal in 16 years.
The 22-year-old Belgian set a new national 400m record at 44.77 secs at the Samsung Diamond League meeting in Paris last Friday, a time that equalled the national record which Gillick set in Madrid last year before going on to finish sixth in the 400m final at the world championships in Berlin.
This year Gillick, starved of Diamond League competition, chose the Swiss Alpine town of La Chaux-De-Fonds to set the leading European time at 44.98 and while he came back in Barcelona to improve to 44.95 secs, Borlee had already posted 44.94 in Lausanne.
Gillick, back-to-back European indoor champion 05/07, has been following the fortunes of the young Belgian whose 44.77 for third place behind Jeremy Wariner (44.49) and Jermaine Gonzales (44.63) in Paris reinforced his position as favourite for the gold medal in Barcelona.
Borlee missed most of last season, including the world championships, through injury. He is fully fit again but will arrive in Barcelona carrying a heavy weight on his shoulders.
Belgium have not won a championship medal since Vincent Rousseau took silver in the 5,000m in 1994 when Sonia O’Sullivan won her first European gold medal.
“I know I’m now the leading European runner, but there is no big pressure,” he said. “I’m going to Barcelona to run and we will just have to see what happens. I hope to run another best in the final, whether that’s good enough for a medal, or victory, we’ll just have to see, but there is no pressure.”
Gillick sent shockwaves around Morton Stadium when he withdrew from the competition after winning his heat of the 100m at the Woodies DIY national championships on Sunday week but, thankfully, it was not a problem.
“Due to the niggle I had in my foot, the Athletics Ireland doctor sent me for an MRI scan on Monday,” he said. “We both knew it wasn’t anything serious, but while I was at home we may as well check it out and take no risks. Everything turned out ok and the scan showed up nothing.”
He returned to his training base in Loughborough the Tuesday after the championships and has been putting the finishing touches to his preparations there.
“I decided not to travel out with the Irish team to the pre Euros training camp in Murcia, Spain,” he said. “I don’t need to get into race mode too early. Sometimes when away on camp, surrounded by athletes, with not much to do you can just start thinking about your competition.
“I have everything I need here in Loughborough, so it just boils down to where I’m happy. I will fly straight into Barcelona a few days before I compete.”
Jason Smyth underscored his current wellbeing at an international meeting in Castres on Tuesday night when he ran 10.43, with a slight wind advantage, in his heat of the 100m and then finished second in the final in 10.43.
“Despite the travel difficulties it was worthwhile because himself and his coach Stephen Maguire felt he needed the race and he came through it very well,” team manager, Patsy McGonagle, said.
“He had problems getting there and did not get to bed until 2 am on the morning of the race and then, with the air strike, he had difficulty getting back here to Murcia. But I understand he is currently getting on to a plane.
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