DUAL gold-medallist Andy Turner shrugged off a major Twitter controversy to storm to victory in the first big tournament of the outdoor athletics season.
Hucknall hero Turner risked incurring the wrath of UK head coach Charles van Commenee at the European Team Championships in Stockholm, Sweden last weekend.
Van Commenee was embroiled in a public bust-up with one of Turner’s teammates, Phillips Idowu, after the world and European triple jump champion announced his withdrawal from the championships by posting a message on Twitter.
It led to the Dutch disciplinarian branding those who used the social networking site as “clowns and attention-seekers.”
Turner himself is a prolific tweeter. So after winning the 110m hurdles event in wet and windy Stockholm, he couldn’t resist quipping: “I am pleased to keep Mr van Commenee happy!”
The 30-year-old, son of Malcolm and Yvonne Turner, of Nottingham Road, Hucknall, even went on to analyse his race with this fresh tweet for his 2,763 followers:
“Officially the worst conditions ever. My toes were like ice cubes and I think I can feel pneumonia coming on! Twelve points for the team though”.
The rain was driving down and a stiff headwind was swirling as Turner comfortably demolished his field, easing down, in a time of 13.42 seconds.
The win maintained his sparkling form so far this season, which has seen him clock five of the best six times in Europe.
And it suggested he is capable of stepping up on a memorable year in 2010 when he landed gold medals at both the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India and the European Championships in Barcelona, Spain.
Turner’s win was not enough to inspire the British team to victory in Stockholm. They finished fourth overall, behind Russia, Germany and Ukraine.
But his performance won rich praise from hurdling legend Colin Jackson, who commented: “Andy has looked smooth and confident since winning those big titles last year. He is really strong.
“The conditions in Stockholm were very difficult for hurdlers. When you throw your lead leg up, a lot of water flies into your face.”
Approaching his 31st birthday (on September 19) he might be but Turner is fast developing into one of Britain’s leading hopes for glory at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
If all goes well, it will be his third appearance at an Olympics, having failed to progress beyond the heats in Athens in 2004 and then reaching the quarter-finals in Beijing three years ago.
Turner has been the highest-ranked sprint-hurdler in the UK for six years. His next big tournament is the World Championships in South Korea at the end of August.
“Physically and mentally, I feel good at the moment,” Turner added.
“I am running well this season and I have high expectations of myself.
“I am trying to prepare myself to compete with the best guys in the world. There are three or four ahead of everyone else at the moment.”
Those four are Americans David Oliver and Aries Merritt, plus Xiang Liu, of China, and the world-record holder, Dayron Robles, of Cuba.