Ryan Gregson: They all say I look like Ovett – and I get a real kick out of that
On The Road To 2012: Postcard from Wollongong
Sunday 12 February 2012
I live in Wollongong. It's a big coastal town, 50 miles south of Sydney in New South Wales. Most of the running I do here is on the cycle path next to the beach. My mum Sue is usually alongside me on the bike.
My training group is the Melbourne Track Club. There's myself and some other good Australian distance runners, such as Collis Birmingham and Ben St Lawrence. Because the rest of the group are based in Melbourne, we only meet up to do training camps.
We also base ourselves in London, in Teddington, for the European summer track season. It's weird but when I head there in late May or early June it feels like home. I also do some altitude training at Mount Laguna, which is just up from San Diego in California, but for some reason in America it doesn't feel like home.
There's something about England – I guess it's because that's where all Australians pretty much come from. Our cultures are similar and we're the same kind of people. It definitely does feel like home in London. The Olympics are going to feel like a home-from-home Games.
I'm 21 now and I was only 10 when the Olympics were in Sydney. Sonia O'Sullivan, the wife of my coach, Nic Bideau, won a silver in the 5,000m but I don't remember that race. I was there for Cathy Freeman's 400m semi-final, sitting up in the rafters in the back row with 150 metres to go. There was no cover and it was raining that night so I got pretty wet.
It was a great experience, having a home Olympics only an hour and a half up the road. It was pretty cool. It would have been better if I had been older, though. I didn't totally understand the huge significance of the occasion.
We've got our Olympic trials in March and I've also got to run a time of under 3min 35.50sec to qualify for the 1500m.
I ran 3:31.06 in Monaco but that was two years ago. I got struck down with injury a few days after, and have had a fair few setbacks since then. I pulled out of the Commonwealth Games in 2010 with a stress fracture in my foot.
That run in Monaco kind of came out of the blue. That day I really wasn't expecting to do it, to break Simon Doyle's Australian record.
I've had to take my time and sit it out since then but hopefully I can start revising the potential I showed that day.
Some people have said I'm a bit of a double for Steve Ovett. There is one photo where I suppose I just kind of look the same. I have met Steve a few times. I'm good friends with his son Freddy, who's a very good middle-distance runner. We speak a fair bit.
I guess if there is a comparison to be made with Ovett it's more in the way I race. In the slower races I do have a pretty good kick at the end. Ovett was well known for that.
Actually, Ovett is the guy who's name I've typed in the most when I've gone on to YouTube. He's the runner I've researched the most: just the way he raced, the big kick, and waving to the crowd, stuff like that. It's great to watch.
Even though I wasn't around to see it at the time, looking back at Ovett on YouTube is a great, great running experience.
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