ANDY POZZI is back and he is ready to put two injury-plagued years behind him and get his career back on track.
The Stratford-born, Bath-based athlete underwent surgery on a foot injury in May this year and is ready to get back into training after being relieved of his surgical boot a few weeks ago.
The Great Britain hurdler, a former Alcester Grammar School student, admits his training has gone back to basics but the complexity of his injury means this is the appropriate course of action.
“I had two foot operations so I’m effectively rehabbing both at the same time. I’m just doing a lot of balance work and getting my feet used to working again,” said Pozzi.
“The muscles in my feet and my calves haven’t worked for the last few months so we started off with some walking drills and taking things slowly and not putting too much pressure on my feet at this stage.”
The 22-year-old remains on the World Class Performance Programme (WCPP) podium funding list for 2014/15, supported by the National Lottery, and he is thankful for the support he has received from British Athletics and its importance during his rehabilitation.
“It is very important both mentally and emotionally – it is good to know people are supporting you and haven’t lost faith in what I can do,” he added.
Pozzi took on the role as a trackside reporter for British Athletics at the Sainsbury’s British Championships and Sainsbury’s Glasgow Grand Prix this summer and, although his successful media experience was something he enjoyed, he is excited at the prospect of getting back into training and reaping the rewards of his endeavour.
When asked what he had missed the most during his injury, he said: “It’s the hard work – not all athletes enjoy the training, they prefer the racing. However, ever since I started aged 11, I’ve enjoyed working hard and feeling awful while doing a session because you have that feeling that you have really achieved something at the end.”
While he is looking forward to pushing his body to the limits in training, he understands he has to be sensible at the start of his active recovery period. He has already ruled himself out of the 2015 indoor season which will include the European Indoor Championships in Prague, Czech Republic, next year.
“My coach Malcolm Arnold and I are really keen not to make big decisions too quickly. We have to see how my foot responds to training so we have to be quite cautious. We are trying to control the minute details over the next six weeks in particular and then we will know roughly what phase we are going to move into depending how this goes,” said Pozzi.
Pozzi finished fourth at the World Indoor Championships in the 60m hurdles in 2012 and 2014 in between injuries and, although he enjoys the indoor events, he knows the risks of rushing back to be fit for the event in March.
“It’s to alleviate the stress and give us a little bit more time. I love the indoors – I have had relatively successful indoor seasons in between the injuries.
“We are really confident in what I can do if I can stay injury-free. The indoors isn’t going to contribute to my 2015 outdoors season but we are just being very sensible. It’s about not speeding things up but being really thorough and then arriving at my goals.”
The long-term aim will be the Rio Olympics in Brazil in 2016, but achieving a solid base in 2015 which includes the World Championships in Beijing, China, is the immediate focus for Pozzi.
He has not raced an outdoor 110m hurdles race since the 2012 Olympic Games but he is looking forward to getting involved in the great team environment and representing his country once again.
“It’s such a cliché but the reason why we do all that we do is in the hope that we get to pull on the GB & NI vest and go to major championships.
“We’ve got a great team and we are all really supportive of each other. For what is quite an individual sport, the team cohesion is great and I missed it a lot when I was out injured,” added Pozzi.