Greene: Best team in an age will deliver the medals


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The Independent Online

It was teeming down at Crystal Palace yesterday afternoon, and more of the same is expected on the opening night of the Aviva London Grand Prix. It is just as well, then, that nothing can dampen the mood of Dai Greene, who can see a pot of gold, silver and bronze at the end of the rainbow.

Announced as captain on Monday, the Welshman, who won the world 400m hurdles in Daegu last summer, is convinced that Team GB's athletics squad are on course to hit the medal target of eight set by head coach Charles van Commenee.

"Eight seems very fair and I think we will attain it," Greene said. "Charles wouldn't say it if he didn't think we could attain it. He is very harsh but also very fair. If you look at myself, Mo Farah, Jess Ennis and Phillips Idowu, we have all picked up medals. You have Robbie Grabarz, Holly Bleasdale, some of the relays – and people could come out of nowhere.

"I think this is one of our best teams in a long time. I think we've been getting steadily better in hitting our medal targets. We don't have massive numbers. It's more quality than quantity and we have a good mix of youngsters and experience. It's a good balance.

"People like Holly Bleasdale are so young and performing so well. Robbie Grabarz has come out of nowhere. IThe feeling is that the team has done better than in previous years already this season and it's about putting the icing on the cake in London."

Greene has raced into shape following a rusty start to the season after knee surgery at Christmas. The 26-year-old is second in the world to Javier Culson, the Puerto Rican he relegated to silver in Daegu. The pair meet again tonight.

Greene has come a long way since he lined up for his first sports-day race at his primary school in Llanelli and was so nervous he wet himself. He recounted that anecdote in his speech to the troops at the European Team Championships last summer.

"Yes, I'll have to come up with something else to say before the Games," he said. "My worry is that I've peaked too soon but I've got a few ideas."

One obvious theme would be how Greene stood in the cramped clubhouse at Moorways Stadium in Derby watching Usain Bolt's 100m world record at the Beijing Olympics on TV. Having missed out on selection, he was consigned to domestic league duty.

Farah, Britain's other gold medal winner at the worlds last year, made the team for Beijing but failed to make the 5,000m final. "Since Beijing I have moved on a lot," said the Londoner, who runs in the 5,000m tonight. "I have won medals and come up the rankings."

Last summer Hannah England ran the race of her life to snatch silver in the 1,500m final in Daegu. Tonight she hits the comeback trail. Badly spiked in a heel at Hengelo in May, she has only been running for 11 days.

"When I was recovering and could only shuffle for 15 metres, I wondered if I would recover in time for the Olympics," England said. In such stark circumstances, just making the Games qualifies as a major achievement.