The heat is on for Alan Smith as he prepares for a gruelling schedule of events at the World Police & Fire Games.
Around 12,000 law enforcement and fire service personnel – from 70 different countries – are heading to Fairfax County, Virginia, USA, for the third largest multi-sport event on earth.
For the stair race, the height of the tower this year is 28 floors and equivalent of running up the Spinnaker TowerAlan Smith
Among them will be firefighter Smith, from Portsmouth, who is gearing up for the competition also known as The Games of Heroes.
The 53-year-old is an experienced competitor, having previously been to Korea, Belfast and Sydney to take part in the prestigious biennial event.
His main goals are to perform strongly in the stair race, the ultimate firefighter, and the decathlon.
Other events like the triple jump, orienteering, and team ultimate firefighter are also in his events diary.
It will certainly be a busy schedule for the firefighter, who works for Hampshire Fire & Rescue and was based at Southsea for 23 years.
His main aim is to improve on his performances last time out in Belfast 2013.
Smith said: ‘For the stair race, the height of the tower this year is 28 floors and equivalent of running up the Spinnaker Tower.
‘My target time is four minutes in full fire kit and breathing apparatus.
‘At the 2013 event I placed eighth in the stair race, fourth in the ultimate firefighter, got silver in the sprint orienteering, won gold in the ultimate firefighter team event, and finished fifth in the long orienteering.
‘This year I hope to improve my times in the stair race and ultimate firefighter and see where that gets me.’
Smith has been training at the Mountbatten Centre with City of Portsmouth athletes Steve Davey and Adam Akehurst.
It’s the first time he’s entered the decathlon competition and the duo have been invaluable with their expert knowledge of so many different track & field events.
Their work in putting the Portsmouth talent through his paces has been crucial in the build-up to the competition.
Smith added: ‘I’m really looking forward to competing in my first decathlon at the age of 53, which would not have been possible without the tremendous support and help from Steve Davey and those at City of Portsmouth Athletics Club.
‘The training I have done with Steve and Adam Akehurst has been great.
‘I’ve been working with them for three months and I should have started six months ago. It’s really helped me.
‘It’s hard to know what sort of competition you are going to run into.
‘But the standard will be high. The USA will be strong in their home country, and the Spanish and the Australians are always good.’
The opening ceremony is at 6pm on Friday and Smith starts with the stair race on Saturday.