Runner Martyn Rooney has said he will make his Olympic performance count a year after rioters devastated his local borough of Croydon.
Rooney, who races in round one of the men’s 400 metres on Saturday, said he was “pissed off” and “embarrassed” as he watched the looting in Croydon on TV last year.
The 25-year-old athlete had moved to Loughborough to train but his parents, Liam, a carpenter, and Marie, a primary school assistant, still live in Thornton Heath. Rooney, who attended St James the Great RC Primary School and then John Fisher School in Purley, was devastated when rioters burned down furniture store Reeves Corner, where he was revered by longest-serving member of staff, Ron Hillman.
He said: “I was just really sad. I’d brought my sofa from Reeves Corner the year before and the guy was an athletics fan and gave me a discount.”
Rooney — who is also part of the 4x400 metre relay squad with Lewisham’s Conrad Williams — now wants to focus fully on performing in the Olympic stadium.
He said: “It’s an amazing opportunity.
“I went to Beijing and I loved it but it was a foreign land, now it’s in London and I know my way around — you’ve got to make it count and do your best. I can’t turn up there and not give it everything.”