CRAIG Pickering’s individual exile might be continuing at the World Championships, but the Milton Keynes sprinter insists the selectors would be mad to ditch him from Britain’s 4x100m relay squad.
After an unexplained nightmare season last year, the trip to South Korea extends Pickering’s wait for an individual outdoor berth with his country to three years.
The Beijing Olympics in 2008 was the last time Pickering ran without three team-mates alongside him, but despite that barren stretch he’s adamant the relay quartet would be weaker without him.
“I hope my experience before will stand me in good stead to get into the team,” said Pickering. “I never like to assume that people think the same way as me.
“But from my point of view I like to think I’ve run well all year and I’m the only athlete that has run the second leg competitively for Britain in the last five years.
“So looking at it objectively it would seem that I’ve got a good chance of being in the squad and hopefully the coaches see it like that as well.
“Although it’s easy to think that every relay leg is 100m, so everyone should be able to do every leg, people have different skills suited to different people.
“The second leg needs someone who is not as good a starter and doesn’t run 200m, but is strong towards the end of a race – and in previous years that has been me.
“I feel now that I know the leg very well and I know how to run the race and gauge how I’m doing against other people in the race. So for me I know it well and I enjoy running it, and it’s the place I’d like to be.”
After struggling for form in 2010, Pickering made a coaching and training base switch over the winter from Bath, with Malcolm Arnold, to Loughborough to work with Michael Khmel.
The 24-year-old Marshall Milton Keynes AC man is currently preparing for the World Championships in the heat, humidity and rain of Ulsan. And while admitting it will be a drawn-out process to rediscover his top form, Pickering believes the switch is paying the dividends he needs to book an individual London 2012 berth.
“I wasn’t injured last year so I don’t know what was wrong with me,” he added. “It’s a good squad with people like Harry Aikines-Aryeetey in there and I wanted to up my game a little bit and try new things and so far it has worked out.
“I wanted to be in the individual this year but I knew after last year it would be difficult. So for me it was about cementing my spot in a squad of six with a view to making a big improvement again next year and hopefully get an individual spot at 2012.”
If he’s picked to race then Pickering will pull on the red, white and blue for the 4x100m heats early Sunday afternoon (September 4) with the final to follow that evening.
>> Pickering has been selected for the Aviva GB&NI Team and is at an Aviva funded preparation camp in Ulsan, Korea. Aviva’s support, both at home and abroad, is helping the team prepare to compete at their best. To find out more, go to aviva.co.uk/athletics