CRACK former medallist Jamie Baulch believes Hucknall’s Andy Turner is a shining example for British athletes — after a remarkable turnaround in fortunes saw him land a bronze medal at the World Championships earlier this year.
And he believes Turner can now take advantage of that turnaround to secure another dream medal at the Olympic Games in London next summer.
The 110m hurdler’s National Lottery funding was taken away by UK Sport in 2008. But since then, he’s transformed his career in style.
Last year, Turner (30) claimed a memorable gold-medal double at the European Championships and Commonwealth Games to give him the belief he could challenge on the world stage.
And that belief soon turned in to a reality as, after finishing fourth at the worlds in Daegu, South Korea this summer, Turner was upgraded to third and a bronze medal that underlined his status as one to watch at London 2012.
While many in the sport are accused of lacking the desire needed to compete on the global stage, former world indoor 400m champion Baulch believes Turner has shown what hunger can do for an athlete.
“Coming off the grant was probably the best thing that could have happened to Andy,” said Baulch, who also won an Olympic silver medal in 1996 at Atlanta, USA in the 4X400m relay.
“He went from down and out to Commonwealth and European champion. And then to top it all off with a medal in Daegu was really special.”
Baulch, who is now 38, was speaking as the official race-starter for the Lloyds TSB Cardiff Half-Marathon, staged last month.
“I’m just so pleased for Andy,” added the ex-Welsh athlete. “The difference is that he was running as if his life depended on it — because, in all honesty, it did!
“He’s a great example of what hunger can do for an athlete and it’s a lesson that every British athlete can learn from at the moment.
“Back in my day, we didn’t have the facilities and generous grants they have now and it’s easy for the current generation to get swept up with all the trappings which come with that.”
The next step for Turner is to repeat his Daegu heroics at next year’s Olympics, which would be no mean feat in a competition that is expected to include world superstars Dayron Robles of Cuba, China’s Liu Xiang and American duo David Oliver and Jason Richardson.
But Baulch, who also won three relay gold medals at the World and European Championships during an illustrious career, believes Turner has what it takes to challenge.
“With London 2012 coming up, now is the time to get hungry again,” said Baulch. “The bronze in Daegu, even if it did come via a disqualification, will be a big boost to his confidence.
“Andy might not be running the sort of times that Colin Jackson once ran but that might not be important on the day. He just needs to make sure that his times are consistently in the 13.2 seconds range. If he can, then that’s all he can ask for and on the day in London, it might just be good enough.”
Baulch was actually born in Nottingham but was raised by foster parents in Newport, Wales, where he now lives with his fiancee and two children.
THIS article was provided in conjunction with Lloyds TSB, which is proud to help Barnardo’s make a difference by sponsoring the Cardiff Half-Marathon.