Vernon hoping to cause upset

Andy Vernon. Picture: Malcolm Wells (132954-7632)
Andy Vernon. Picture: Malcolm Wells (132954-7632)

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Andy Vernon admits he will be among the outsiders as he chases World Indoor Championship success today.

The 28-year-old athlete is in the 35-strong Great Britain squad in Sopot, Poland, for the climax to the athletics indoor season.

He knows he faces a serious challenge to make Sunday’s 3,000m final against an array of the world’s top distance runners.

The former Stubbington Green Runners ace also knows he will be not be considered as a medal prospect for the event.

As a result, he has set himself the initial goal of reaching the final, before he starts thinking about going for a place on the podium.

‘There are some very good guys in this, so getting on the podium might be reaching a bit too far,’ said Vernon.

‘First and foremost, I will try to make the final and I will have to race well to do that. I’m pretty confident I can do it, though.

‘I should be in the middle of the range in terms of times, but I am one of the slowest in this season’s rankings.

‘But I’ve been involved in tactical races.

‘And the one race where I was trying to run fast, I didn’t feel too great and it didn’t go very well.

‘On paper, I wouldn’t look too good – I guess I’m a dark horse!

‘But training has gone really well over the past few weeks.

‘I’m looking forward to getting out there.’

Vernon will need to be in the top four in his heat to qualify for the final.

He expects highly-decorated American Bernard Lagat to be the man to beat for the gold medal once again.

Vernon said: ‘He is the defending champion and is the man to beat.

‘But he is getting older and, hopefully, he can be beaten.

‘There are only good runners in the field.

‘I looked at the start list, and on their day everyone is good.

‘I wasn’t looking at it and saying “he’s beatable and he’s beatable”.’

The indoor track presents a different challenge to Vernon but he is hopeful the high-profile event could be a springboard to success in the outdoor season this summer.

He said: ‘There are no elements to compete with, which is quite nice when you are racing indoors but the bends are a lot tighter.

‘And there is a lot more hustle and bustle when you are fighting for positions.

‘When it gets down to the nitty gritty in the last three or four laps, it’s a lot harder to overtake.

‘But I enjoy the challenge. It’s good to mix it up and I’m a bigger athlete, so I don’t mind getting my elbows out!

‘After this, I’ll be going out to America for a training camp and will then do a 5km race in California. Hopefully that will be enough for Commonwealth Games qualification for the 5,000m because there are no trials for it – it is just done on times.

‘I will then do the trial for the European Championships and I want to do the 10,000m there.

‘I’m hoping that by May 10, I will have done enough to qualify for the Commonwealth Games and the European Championships.

‘That would be good, as I will then have the summer to focus and prepare.’