Richard – back in the UK

Well what a 10 days I have had….
This week I was racing at the British University Universities Championships or ‘BUCS’. Now normally this would be a quite tiring, wet weekend in windy Bedford, with just a handful of spectators, very little excitement, looking forward to nothing but a cheeky McDonalds on the way home and just a good early opportunity to run some competition rounds early season….but not this time!!!
This year we were lucky enough for the championships to double up as the Olympic test event in the London 2012 stadium. Being the test event, all athletes were subjected to the exact same protocol that awaits athletes when they compete at this years Olympics, the aim being to give the officials and volunteers a practice event for the big day. This proved quite amusing as some of those competing were actually doing so for only the second or third time in any athletic event, and the enormity of the competition and stadium coupled with the seriousness of the protocols far exceeded those of previous experiences I think.
For example the bemusement in one guys face in the 400m heats who was told he would have to have his Tescos plastic bag taped up to cover the lettering was quite amusing. The reason for this is that there are incredibly strict rules regarding branding at big games such as the Olympics. The companies are tiered in a hierarchy of importance and exposure via their contributions, and are rewarded with branding rights to certain areas. 
Adidas for example are the official kit sponsor of Team GB. What this effectively means is that during the games British athletes are forbidden from wearing any kit other than Adidas at team events, press conferences and alike (excluding competition specific items). Penalties can be quite severe on individuals, teams and stewards etc and this is why most athletes entering the stadium this weekend did so covered head to toe in some cases in tape and stickers to cover up ‘illegal’ branding. Not your typical experience at your county championships I assure you, you can almost guarantee no supermarket plastic bag favouritism. 
All in all it was quite a successful weekend for me personally. I managed to place second in the 400m and I was lucky enough to anchor the relay team to gold in the 4x400m relay, which considering I had the last remnants of jet lag in my body and a cold brewing I was quite pleased with. Loughborough as always managed to come away champions. I think we have won every year for over 20 years so there wasn’t much surprise in the result and I’m pretty sure they engrave the trophy weeks in advance 😉 
However following such a wonderful bank holiday weekend I unfortunately then had the joy early in the week of some injections to try and help ease out the stiffness and pressure in my spine. 10 injections later courtesy of Dr Rob,  a bit battered and bruised I have escaped Loughborough to pop home for the weekend to recover before a busy racing week next week. 
Next up for me is a 400m hurdles race in Namur, Belgium on Wednesday where I hope if the weather is kind I can really get my hurdles season going, and then back for the Loughborough International where teams from England, Wales and Scotland all compete in one of the bigger domestic races of the year. Not much point in hoping for good weather there. 
So as always I enter this week hopeful this week is the week I run my Olympic A standard, and will let you all know as soon as I know 🙂