WRITTEN FOR BRITISH ATHLETICS, FOR THE SAINSBURY’S BRITISH CHAMPIONSHIPS EVENT PROGRAMME -
Injury has forced World Indoor 60m hurdles fourth-placer, Andy Pozzi to miss a second-consecutive outdoor season but the 22 year old tells Nicola Bamford that he is hopeful for a swift recovery, courtesy of the world-class support behind him.
Having broken the navicular bone in his right foot, the British indoor 60m hurdles champion is assisted by British Athletics Podium Olympic funding and is also backed by the National Lottery, UK Sport and his sponsors, Nike.
The 2011 European junior silver medallist – guided by Malcolm Arnold – boasts a 7.53 60m hurdles lifetime best from March and a 13.34 110m hurdles personal best from the 2012 season, when his injury problems began following his failure to finish the first round of the London Olympics.
Here, Pozzi offers an insight into his typical day in rehab:
“I usually have a lie-in until 8:30/9am which I’m quite enjoying. It took me quite a while to get used to not having to get up early.
“From 9am until 1:30pm, I’ll read, watch films and make notes for my dissertation. Then we’ll drive to Rugby until 2:15pm.
“Once there, from 2:30pm until 5pm, I’ll use the hyperbaric chamber, which I use three times a week. It’s a pressurised steel tube which speeds up recovery by pumping more oxygen into the room.
“I’m lucky Rugby’s not too far away but I can’t drive with the injury so my mum drives me, I’m very lucky to have parents that are so committed to helping me.
“Sometimes there will be other athletes in there. We’ll wear big masks so we can’t talk or even hear very much so I’ll read or play cards or board-games with the others.
“It’s like being on a submarine, it’s a very strange environment and is just a case of sitting around breathing. We have to wear medical scrubs and as it’s pressurised, you can’t take ipads or phones in there.
“Afterwards, we’ll drive home and get back by 6pm when I usually do a core and abdominal circuit for 90-minutes, which is more to keep me sane rather than help my recovery.
“I’ll have dinner with my parents between 7:30pm and 8:30pm then I’ll chill out in the evening with friends. It’s quite nice as I’m normally away competing during the summer and I’ve had lots of visitors.
“It’s strange to have so much time and not being able to walk or drive is really frustrating, but I’m fortunate that my earnings from the sport have allowed me to do two degrees and build on other aspects in my life.
“British Athletics and my sponsors, Nike have always stuck by me and their support makes everything worthwhile.”
Pozzi’s injury woes arrived suddenly on the eve of his seasonal debut in early May.
Due to open his outdoor campaign in the IAAF Diamond League in Doha on May 9th, Pozzi suddenly “felt and heard a crack without warning” whilst sprinting out of his starting blocks in the final hurdles session before the competition.
Realising the severity of the issue, he went for a scan that very afternoon and received the results the following day.
“I had the operation on the 22nd and I also had university exams at Bristol University on the 20th and 21st so it was a manic few days,” Pozzi recalled.
“Since the operation, I’ve started to write my dissertation for my Master degree so I’m keeping busy. I’m slowly recovering whilst staying with my parents in Stratford upon Avon.
Although understandably frustrated, Pozzi hopes to return to training in November and is in no rush to return to action – with the 2016 Rio Olympics his ultimate aim – following this second untimely bout of injury woes:
“I did next to no training for the indoors so it’s great to know I can get back to that kind of level quite quickly, so at the moment, we’re just trying to work out what my goals are,” he revealed.
“We need to work out what will set me up nicely for 2016, so whether to do the 2015 European Indoor Champs or to come back more slowly.”
With the assistance of crutches for 12 weeks, Pozzi’s foot will shortly come out of the cast and into a supportive boot before utilising physiotherapy services at the Loughborough Performance Institute – all whilst juggling fortnightly check-ups with bone specialists in Oxford and appointments with his surgeon in Northampton.
“I’ve had lots of medical assessments to explore where the problem’s come from, it’s requiring a deep exploration as there’s no obvious answer,” Pozzi explained.
“My injury problems have been a massive limiting factor in my career so it’s nice to have so much support from some many people putting their time and money in me.
“If I can get through this storm, it will all be worth it and I feel if I can recover well, then I will have enough time to come back to perform well in Rio 2016.”
“British Athletics and UK Sport have been fantastic, which makes the lengthy rehab feel worthwhile.
Pozzi’s five to watch in Birmingham
Keen not to dwell on his misfortune, the 2012 British 110m hurdles champion has revealed his top-five tips on which athletes to watch out for at the Sainsbury’s British Championships:
“The sprint hurdles is going to be quite close this year – I think Will Sharman’s leading the way at the moment but having been training with Lawrence (Clarke), I think we might see him return to his 2012 form (when he finished fourth in the London Olympics) and is good to see Andy Turner back. I think the three of them will have a big fight to qualify for the European Championships (in Zurich in August).
“It would be nice to see (Adam) Gemili go under 10-seconds in the 100m, he looks good but it will be an interesting race with (James) Dasaolu and (Richard) Kilty in the mix as well.
“Katarina (Johnson-Thompson) has a great summer ahead – it’s great to see how well she’s doing.
“Eilidh (Child)’s growing in strength every year and has a good summer ahead especially with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow (in July).
“I’m looking forward to seeing what Asha (Philip) can do after the indoors – women’s sprinting is moving on and it will be interesting to see Asha trying to convert her 60m success to the women’s 100m.
“It’s an exciting summer for British Athletics and I will be at the Sainsbury’s British Championships to do some interviews for them in the mixed zone – it’s nice to be involved and to keep busy.”