Glittering career of Hucknall’s finest, Andy Turner, reaches finishing line

THE LAST HURDLE -- Andy Turner struggles to hold back the tears at the European Championships in Zurich
THE LAST HURDLE -- Andy Turner struggles to hold back the tears at the European Championships in Zurich

He is probably the finest sportsman Hucknall has ever produced.

He is definitely the best athlete Hucknall has ever produced.

And he is officially the fourth fastest 110m hurdler in the history of British athletics.

But now Andy Turner has reached the finishing line of his career after bidding farewell to his last international tournament.

The 33-year-old announced his retirement after a disastrous attempt to retain his Commonwealth Games title in Glasgow earlier this year.

So it was time to say his goodbyes after finishing seventh in the semi-finals of the European Championships in Zurich last week.

“I feel that now is the time to hang up my spikes,” said Turner. “I have been competing in major championships since 2004, so I have had a good innings.

“I was a bit disappointed with that last race, but I just wanted to run. I gave it everything, but that’s all I had.

“I couldn’t have wished for a better way to go out than wearing my country’s flag.”

Along with older brother Garry, Turner showed a talent for athletics from an early age, following in the footsteps of dad Malcolm, who was nicknamed ‘Trackburner’ in his running days.

Unbeknown to Andy, Malcolm drove to Zurich to watch his son’s final race. There also in spirit was his biggest fan, Yvonne, who died tragically last year.

Andy has flown the flag for British sprint hurdling for more than a decade, competing at three Olympic Games and winning a host of international and domestic titles.

“I think the highlight was winning gold at the Europeans in 2010,” he said. “I had a lot of doubters at that time and had been dropped from National Lottery funding, so it made up for all the upset and people not believing in me. But there are so many great memories.”

Turner clocked his personal-best time of 13.22 seconds in Lausanne, Switzerland in June 2011. It has been bettered by only three British hurdlers -- the legendary Colin Jackson, Tony Jarrett and this summer’s dual silver medallist Will Sharman.

Jackson (now 47) was among those who paid tribute to Turner, describing him as “a very good hurdler”, who could have achieved so much more had his career not been plagued by injuries.

“Andy had a wonderful purple patch in 2011 and 2011,” said Jackson. “But If only he could have strung together two solid winters free of injury. His body kept letting him down.

“However, he was a fighter, he was a soldier. He worked so hard and he kept dragging the best out of himself. After all his trials and tribulations, he should be proud of what he has achieved. I know I am.”

Turner, who lives in Sutton, Surrey with his girlfriend and their two daughters, now plans to concentrate on his circuit-training business, Antics.

He is also hoping to do more TV and radio work and spend more time watching his beloved Nottingham Forest. He’s a fine footballer himself and was on Notts County’s books for a while as a teenager.

First, though, it’s time to reflect on his memorable achievements in athletics. “I’ve had a good career,” he said. “After all, I’m just some kid from Hucknall.”

ANDY TURNER

ROLL OF HONOUR

OLYMPIC GAMES -- competed in 2004, 2008 and 2012.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS -- bronze in 2011.

EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS -- gold in 2010, bronze in 2006.

COMMONWEALTH GAMES -- gold in 2010, bronze in 2006.

EUROPEAN TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS -- gold in 2011 and 2009.

UK CHAMPIONSHIPS -- champion in 2009, 2008, 2007 and 2006