BASC caught up with team captain Guy Learmonth - before he knew he was team captain - ahead of Glasgow 2019. Our intrepid interviewer asked him loads of questions. Here are just 10 of them - to read more, catch the next issue of Backtrack.
How did you get into athletics?
Growing up in the Scottish Borders, like every other kid, I was born with a rugby ball in my hand so that was my first love. I only ever ran in the summer to keep fit for the rugby as it was off season. But I remember racing the Scottish U20 Indoor champs in 2009, 400m and I won easily. The day before I played one of my Scotland U17 trial matches in the freezing snow. So, it was then that I realised I could be quite good at athletics. A few months later, I was 17 and I was under pressure to decide by the SRU between the rugby or the athletics, so I opted for the latter, everyone thought I was crazy at the time, but it’s paid off now.
Who were your athletics heroes when you first got into the sport?
Steve Prefontaine. I first watched his biopic “Without Limits” when I was a kid and fell in love with him. I became a bit obsessed, read everything about him, including the two books written about him. He was a hero, a visionary, way ahead of his time but taken from us all far too soon.
How do you stay focused and positive if you get an injury or suffer a setback?
It’s hard. And especially the last few years it’s been serious difficult but it’s part of the sport and I’ve always been self-motivated and unbelievably driven with what I want to do with my sport and life, so if an injury prevents me one year getting the time I want or the medal I want, then it’s straight in the pool, rehab or whatever I’ve been set to do in order to get back to full fitness and get back out there, chasing what goals I’ve set for myself. It’s a weird one, but I’ve never really struggled with motivation, I believe in myself so much and I’m probably the type of person that if I achieve what I’ve set out to do in this sport then you’ll probably never see me again. That day could come this year, next year or in 10 years. Who knows? Until it happens though, you all still get to see me every week!!
Does the support from British athletics fans in the arena or stadium help your performance in competition?
MASSIVELY! I love racing back home and anywhere in the UK now. The energy and atmosphere always lifts me, it’s no surprise that most of my PBs and best performances are done in the UK.
What do you do to relax when away from competing and training?
I just spend a lot of time with my friends and family, the majority who don’t take part in any sport or athletics, which is quite refreshing if I’m honest. I think finding that balance and being able to come into the house and switch off is so important. I love going out for coffee or food though so that happens regularly. As well as being a massive, secret, ancient history geek in my down time the days seem to go too quickly in between training!
If you could change one thing about athletics what would it be?
The sport must be fully commercialised. Athletes are the assets of the entire athletic industry. Our race kit should look like a F1 car. We are commodities. The sooner athletes truly realise this the better. Don’t sell yourself short.
What advice would you give any youngster who'd like to be an athlete?
Don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith and try new things. Be excited by what challenges you and find that inner motivation and confidence to overcome any obstacle that stands in your way, as there will be many, but you must run through adversity, not away from it.
What does the opportunity to compete at the Euro Indoor Champs in Glasgow mean to you?
It means everything. As soon as I seen the Indoors was announced on home soil, I knew that was going to be the big goal for the entire year, for my coach too. It’s going to remind me of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, it’s going to be a very special moment. I’ll be running in GB colours of course but with the saltire underneath!
Do you have any recommendations for first time visitors to Glasgow for places to visit or eat out?
Head to the West End for some unreal coffee joints!
What are your ambitions for the 2019 season?
Medals and fast times. I want to go 1:43 this season.