At the home Olympics last summer, he was the captain of the British team – the crestfallen captain. London 2012 did not exactly go to plan for Dai Greene. While Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis and Greg Rutherford all struck gold on Super Saturday, the reigning world 400m hurdles champion drew a blank in the midweek final of his event.
Five months on from the anguish of the Olympic Stadium, when the Swansea Harrier lay sprawled on the track after crossing the line short of medal territory in fourth place, there was a spring back in his step yesterday as he put the disappointment of 2012 behind him and bettered a long-standing British record. The 600m race in the British Athletics Glasgow International Match was always likely to provide the most gripping action in the first indoor track and field event held in the new £113 million Emirates Arena, and thus it proved.
The British indoor record at the rarely run distance had been set at 1min 17.6sec in 1984 by the Liverpudlian 800m specialist Ikem Billy, one of Sebastian Coe's domestic two-lap rivals. The big challenge for Greene was whether he, as a one-lap hurdler, could claim it ahead of Andrew Osagie, who finished eighth in David Rudisha's world-record Olympic 800m final last summer.
The smart money was always on Duane Solomon, the American who finished fourth in the Olympic 800m final, being too strong for both Britons, and he duly prevailed in 1:15.70, a US record. Behind him, though, Greene – running for the Commonwealth Select team in the five-way international contest – had too much in the tank for Osagie, who had been picked ahead of him as the GB representative.
Both finished inside the British record set by Billy back in December 1984 on the blessed old indoor track that stood in an aircraft hangar at RAF Cosford. Greene, however, took possession of the record, finishing as runner-up in 1:16.22 – 0.23sec ahead of Osagie. He also pocketed a $5,000 (£3,150) bonus.
"My girlfriend's probably already spent it on furniture," Greene joked, having left house-moving duties to his other half while making a rare foray into indoor competition.
It was good to see him smile. The heartache he endured at London 2012 came on the back of a winter severely disrupted by a knee injury that had left him undercooked.
"I didn't think I'd get a British record in this event before the 400m hurdles," Greene continued, alluding to his pursuit of Kriss Akabusi's outdoor one-lap hurdles mark. "It's nice to get a British record, nice to be in a different event, and nicer to be enjoying athletics again. This time last year I was training in South Africa and happy to run 400m in 2min 20sec. It was the first time I could run a lap since October.
"Last year was just a massive opportunity for me, which sadly I couldn't take. It's great to be able to put months of training together in the winter and to be competitive. It has put a massive smile on my face, on the track and away from it."
There were only two British winners in match events. Dwain Chambers showed his enduring class as an indoor 60m runner, blasting to victory in 6.58sec ahead of the former world 100m champion Kim Collins. "I've definitely got my sights on the European indoor title," the 34-year-old said, pointing the way forward to the continental championships in Gothenburg in March.
Holly Bleasdale won the pole vault with a clearance of 4.60m, backing up the early-season 4.62m with which she leads the world rankings. The British team, though, had to settle for third place in the match, behind Russia and the United States.
The Paralympic events introduced into the programme proved a huge success with the 5,000 sell-out crowd. The legally blind sprinter Libby Clegg had to run solo in the T11/12 60m after her guide runner was injured in the warm-up, finishing third in 8.37sec.
"It's the first time since 2005 that I've run on my own," the Paralympic silver medallist said. "I can only see half a metre in front of me, so it's not easy."
It's all in the planning
MO FARAH: Currently training at Iten in Kenya. First race of the year will be an indoor 3,000m at the Birmingham Grand Prix, followed by the New Orleans Half Marathon.
JESSICA ENNIS: Training in Sheffield. Undecided about competing in the indoor season. Will definitely miss the national championships in her home town but may take part in the Birmingham Grand Prix.
GREG RUTHERFORD: Preparing for the outdoor season at his new training base in Phoenix, Arizona. Will not compete indoors, having undergone post-Olympic surgery.
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Yet to return to competition after surgery to the injured foot that ruled her out of the Olympic marathon. Was on BBC Television commentary duty yesterday.
PHILLIPS IDOWU: Has moved his training base from Birmingham back to London. Is unlikely to be seen in the indoor season, having undergone post-Olympic surgery.