Fresh approach gives bleasdale renewed hope

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Such were the mental demands of trying to make the British Olympic team last year that York sprinter Richard Buck sought serenity in a the written word.

As the 26-year-old battled the daily pressures of reaching London, he released his frustration by writing a book, a fictional take on the life of an athlete.

As someone who had lost funding and had to work as a shelf-stacker at Tesco in Loughborough, he had plenty to talk about.

“It was about the worst elements of myself,” said Buck, “all the problems I have encountered.

“It proved to be a very therapeutic process for me.

“Track and field is obviously my passion, but with me working part time last year with various jobs, I saw the bigger picture of athletics not being the major stress it had been in the past.

“I didn’t put as much pressure on myself as I had in the past and it certainly helped me become a lot freer through the entire season so I’m hoping to model my future seasons on that, running without as much pressure on myself.”

Buck is currently looking for a publisher to get his work into print, but as is customary for a man who likes to have a number of plates spinning, he returns to Yorkshire today with a place in the British team at the European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg next month, also on his mind.

To achieve that, he needs a top two finish at this weekend’s British Athletics European Trials and Indoor Championships at the English Institute of Sport.

“I set my fastest opening time by over half a second last weekend in Birmingham which is usually a really good sign for me, it shows I’m in pretty good shape,” said Buck.

“That gave me the European qualifying time but I need to finish in the top two to book my place on the plane.

“It’s a really big event with national television there, and it’s always fierce competition.”

That competition comes in the form of Buck’s fellow Yorkshireman, Richard Strachan of Leeds, who has run the fastest 400m time this year. Strachan, 26, of Leeds, who is trained by Linford Christie, comes into Sheffield having run the qualification time twice.

Strachan said: “I only ran one 400m before the European indoors two years ago, but I’ve got a full season under my belt this time around. I’m feeling good and my training is going really well.”

Nigel Levine is also in the mix for a spot in the individual race in Gotherburg in what will be one of the more keenly contested events on the programme at the EIS.

“We’re very fortunate in track and field in that we’re racing against the clock,” said Buck, who was a European indoor bronze medallist in Paris two years ago.

“As long as I’m making strides forward then I’ll be happy. If I can work with the other guys then that helps, plus we’ve got the relay to push for as well.

“But you are really competing against yourself. Three races in two days is gruesome, but it’s the same as the Europeans in Gothenburg so it’s a good test.”

The absence of Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis dilutes the standard somewhat but there is plenty of local interest for the sell-out crowd to root for.

Sheffield’s Mukhtar Mohammed goes in the 800m heats this afternoon while Leeds’s James Wilkinson contest the 3,000m at 6.10pm.

Rotherham’s Louise Bloor runs in the women’s 200m heats on Sunday afternoon just after Sheffield’s Jamie Williamson competes in the shot putt.

Annabelle Lewis from Kingston-upon-Hull runs in the 60m sprint, an event former Olympic 400m champion Christine Ohuruogo is registered for.

In the absence of Olympic champion Greg Rutherford, Chris Tomlinson of Middlesbrough will be a strong contender in the long jump. Barnsley’s Luke Cutts is in pole vault action. Karla Drew, a heptathlon student of Toni Minichiello, contests the women’s 60m hurdles alongside Wakefield’s Zara Horn tomorrow.