OLYMPIC champion Darren Campbell says Milton Keynes sprinter Craig Pickering is suffering from a crisis of confidence as bad as any injury – and is advising him to turn to literature to break out of his rut.
The 25-year-old appeared to be on the right path prior to the Olympics in 2008, winning European U23 silver and making his World Championship debut the year before.
The Shenley Lodge sprinter reached the semi-finals of the 100m in the latter, as well as claiming 4x100m relay bronze, but at his maiden Olympics in Beijing he bowed out at the quarter-final stage.
And since then Pickering has fallen off the radar, only running individually for Great Britain once – that a fifth place finish at the European Indoor Championships the spring following the Olympics.
He has remained part of the relay team though and ran at World Championships in South Korea last summer where they failed to finish the final, with Usain Bolt anchoring Jamaica to gold and a new world record time.
And Campbell – who won 4x100m gold in Athens in 2004 – puts Pickering’s slide down to confidence, but nothing that a good book wouldn’t fix.
He said: “I feel sorry for him at the minute because he has lost his confidence and that is a big thing in sport. There are a lot of other good runners about and if you are struggling for confidence it does hold you back.
“For me the way out and the way I dealt with any struggles with confidence was reading a lot of motivational books. People think that success is all about the physical training side of things and how well you are doing in training.
“But so much of sport is about the mental side of things and if Craig can find a way to get that confidence back then I think he will be fine. I remember when Craig beat me at a race in Bedford and a lot was made of it that season.
“He went on from there and performed extremely well and then unfairly picked up a few injuries. At the minute he seems to have lost a lot of confidence which is a shame because he has got a lot of talent.”