Athletics: Benjamin on 'tough' track back to fitness

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The Independent Online

The world championship 400 metres finalist Tim Benjamin has described the rigours of training under Colin Jackson as leaving him physically sick.

Britain's No 1-ranked 400m runner left Tony Lester's training stable to join the former 110m hurdles world record holder in September, along with the European 400m hurdles bronze medallist Rhys Williams. However, the 24-year-old was not prepared for Jackson's exacting training regime.

"Colin works me so hard I've been sick on the track," he said. "He is really tough. What surprises me is the standard that he sets, particularly the time on the track he wants you to hit."

The Cardiff athlete has suffered a number of major injuries in recent years and was forced to miss this year's Commonwealth Games with a groin injury which also severely affected his preparations for the European Championships in Gothenburg where he finished sixth.

It was especially tough on Benjamin, who had made a breakthrough in 2005 when he dipped below 45 seconds en route to beating the Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner prior to his efforts at the World Championships in Helsinki where he finished fifth. Now Benjamin, who has ruled out competing indoors, is hoping to avoid any disruption before looking to lower his personal best of 44.56sec with the world championships in Osaka scheduled for the end of August.

"The main aim is to maintain a healthy winter and, hopefully, that will speak volumes on the track when it comes to performances," he said. "I'm hoping to race a lot earlier than I'm used to, so I can attack my personal best in June, July and August."

However, Benjamin's main attention is focused on the Beijing Olympics. "It's a perfect two-year period for me to adjust to the training," he said. "This year I may only repeat what I did in 2005, but the plan is to go on to the next level before Beijing. It will be hard to adjust to this new training regime and do something really awesome in the first year. Beijing is part of the reason I made the move when I did."

Mo Farah has targeted consecutive European titles after confirming he is aiming for a Norwich Union GB team place for the European Indoor Athletics Championships in March.

Farah, the European cross-country champion, will look to qualify for the 3,000m at the trials in Sheffield on 10 and 11 February. If the 23-year-old Somalian-born athlete finishes in the top two he will be selected for the championships in Birmingham from 2-4 March next year. "My confidence is really high at the moment after the win in the cross- country, but the challenges just keep coming for me," he said "With the Euro Indoors in Birmingham there is a great incentive to get there and go for another gold medal, so the Norwich Union Trials in Sheffield will be a key event for me."

Even before his cross-country win, Farah had done enough in 2006 to be voted Britain's male athlete of the year by the British Athletics Writers' Association. He was a silver medallist over 5,000m at the outdoor European Championships in Gothenburg and an impressive winner of the Great North Mile on the road in Newcastle in October.

David Moorcroft's successor as the chief executive of UK Athletics will not be revealed until the new year. The new person at the helm had been expected to be revealed before Christmas, but a brief statement from UK Athletics yesterday read: "Just to confirm no chair or CEO announcement before Christmas - hopefully, in January."

Things have changed significantly since Moorcroft decided to quit the post in August. UK Athletics are intent on appointing a chairman who will work closely with the new chief executive to prepare home-based track and field specialists for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Headhunters have been employed by UK Athletics to find suitable candidates for the two positions, and the organisation had been expected to release the names of the successful candidates before the Christmas holidays. Former track greats such as David Bedford, Lord Coe, Steve Cram and Brendan Foster have shied away from the roles. However, it is known that candidates for the chairman's post have been spoken to - the plan being for the successful applicant to sit in at the potential chief executive's interview.

Moorcroft, who announced his resignation on 24 August, intends to continue in the chief executive role until he can arrange a smooth handover to his successor.