Hucknall’s Olympian Andy Turner launches emotional comeback

FIRST HURDLE JUMPED  -- Andy Turner begins the long road towards defending his 110m hurdles title at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. (PHOTO BY: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)

FIRST HURDLE JUMPED -- Andy Turner begins the long road towards defending his 110m hurdles title at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. (PHOTO BY: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)

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Hucknall’s Olympic athlete Andy Turner has launched his emotional comeback from injury -- and the quest to regain former glories.

After nine months off the track, Turner (33) made two apppearances at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham last weekend.

And satisfactory performances put him on the first steps towards his bid to defend his 110m hurdles title at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer.

Turner’s road to recovery after an Achilles tendon operation began at the prestigious Sainsbury’s British Indoor Grand Prix. It was his first taste of action after a dreadful year in 2013 when not only was he plagued by injury but he also lost his mum and biggest fan Yvonne, who died suddenly at the age of 58, and was stripped of £20,000 worth of National Lottery funding.

“There were times when I thought I would never race again,” Turner tweeted to his 19,000 followers. “So I am thankful to be back on the track. My mum would have been so proud watching me.”

Turner just failed to qualify for the final of the 60m hurdles. But he finished a creditable fifth in a strong heat, clocking a time of 7.76 seconds, behind the winner, 22-year-old Frenchman Pascal Martinot-Legarde (7.58), who also went on to land the final in 7.55.

Afterwards he was philosphical, tweeting: “Not the best today, but I am just happy to be still pain free. Got a lot of work to do but, trust me, I will be trying my best.”

Turner returned to the NIA the following day to represent his club, Sale Harriers, in the Birmingham Games, organised by the Midland Counties Athletics Association.

This time he finished second in 7.85, which was the second best time in three 60m hurdles races on the day. He was beaten narrowly by Dave King, of Plymouth, who clocked 7.82.

It was clear Turner was relieved to get back on the track as he jokingly remembered a previous appearance at the NIA early in his career.

“When I was 17, I ran 49.17 here for the 400m -- and was sick ten times in a bin!” he tweeted.

Now more hard work lies ahead is he is to make the GB team for the Commonwealth Games and then the European Championships at Zurich in August.

Turner’s chief rivals for a place in the team will be old rival William Sharman (29), Lawrence Clarke (23), who caused a minor sensation when finishing fourth in the 110m hurdles final at the London Olympics in 2012, and 21-year-old starlet Andrew Pozzi, who reached the final at the Birmingham Grand Prix last Saturday, finishing sixth in 7.72.

Turner won Commonwealth gold at Delhi in 2010, having pocketed a bronze medal four years earlier in Melbourne. He was also crowned European sprint hurdles champion in 2010 at Barcelona, having finished third 2006.

He won bronze at the 2011 World Championships and has represented Britain at the last three Olympic Games, reaching the semi-finals at London 2012