No Olympics glory for ‘gutted’ Turner

SAFELY THROUGH -- Andy Turner wins his First-Round heat (Dave Thompson/PA Wire)
SAFELY THROUGH -- Andy Turner wins his First-Round heat (Dave Thompson/PA Wire)

CRESTFALLEN Hucknall athlete Andy Turner had been dreaming of London 2012 for seven years — now he can’t wait for the year to end after being eliminated at the semi-final stage of the 110m hurdles at the Olympics.

The 31-year-old took bronze at last year’s World Championships to establish himself as a serious medal contender for the British athletics team.

But after an injury-plagued season, he was struggling for form coming into the greatest sporting show on earth.

He easily negotiated the First Round on Tuesday morning in a conservative time of 13,42 seconds as one of the favourites, Liu Xiang, of China, crashed out in the same race.

Turner knew he would have to run faster in Wednesday evening’s semi-finals and would have to be somewhere near his best.

But he could only produce exactly the same time as he came fourth behind eventual champion Aries Merritt, of the USA.

Speaking to the BBC at trackside, Turner said: “Had I not made the final after running a decent race, I could have understood.

“I’ve had a rubbish season from start to finish. That is the kind of time I would have run jogging last year and the year before.

“I am just gutted really.”

Turner had backtracked on a decision to ban his children from the Olympic Stadium and his parents, Yvonne and Malcolm, were also in the stands.

However, Turner couldn’t produce the sort of form that earned him golds at the European Championships and Commonwealth Games in 2010.

Turner then had to watch as his mantle as the best high hurdler in Britain was taken by 22-year-old Lawrence Clarke, who came an unexpected fourth in the final after qualifying as one of two fastest losers.

After the dust had started to settle, Turner, who was previously christened ‘Trackburner’ by the Dispatch, said: “I’ve been thinking about running in this final since London was awarded the Games in 2005, I’m just so gutted.”

“I really believed I could make that final.”

“Once I got going I was OK but the start was absolutely shocking. I just don’t know what happened. I feel like I’ve let myself down and I’ve let my coach down.”

Turner will now reset his sights on next year’s World Championships in Moscow, sitting down with coach Lloyd Cowan to plan for what he hopes will be a winter without injury.

At 31, he insists he can still cut it against domestics rivals Clarke and Andy Pozzi (20) and be a threat on the world stage.

“I made a few decisions over the winter to go and train elsewhere,” said Turner, who has been hampered by an Achilles problem.

“It’s one of those things that i’d been running ok for a while but I tried to do something different and try something new and it backfired.

“I’m just very disappointed and frustrated with myself, I feel like I let people down.”

But mum Yvonne said there was no way Turner had let anyone down.

She too pinpointed the start as the main reason behind the elimination.

“I just wonder whether it was the enormity of the occasion or the Achilles,” she added.

“But we are all extremely proud of Andy. He epitomised the Olympic spirit when he helped carry Xiang off in the heats and he gave it his all in the semi-finals.

“We have looked at the race over and over again. Andy is a pro and world-class. He will come back stronger than ever.

“There was a lot of pressure on him but he can hold his head up high.”

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