Pozzi and Clarke hail mentor Arnold

06 August 2012 / 23:37

Sprint hurdlers Andy Pozzi and Lawrence Clarke will stake their claims to be the next big thing off the production line of legendary coach Malcolm Arnold when they make their Olympic debuts.

The pair train alongside Great Britain team-mate Dai Greene under the watchful eye of the evergreen 72-year-old in Bath. Arnold has trained athletes to 65 major championship medals over a 44-year career, including Ugandan John Akii-Bua, who won Olympic 400m hurdles gold in 1972, and Colin Jackson.

"He has been coaching us, teaching us, drilling us (about handling the big stage) from the moment I joined the group," Pozzi said.

"There's not a last-minute team-talk before we walk up to the Games. It is just something he has drilled in us, the big championship and how to deal with the pressure.

"To have somebody who has been to so many competitions is very good to have in your team. He was invaluable to me for my first experience of the World Indoor Championships (where he finished fourth in the 60m hurdles in March). He knows how to talk to you and get the most out of you."

The pair have established themselves as the two leading Britons over the 110m hurdles this year, ahead of World Championship bronze medallist Andy Turner, who has been hampered by injury. And Clarke knows where the credit lies.

"He (Arnold) has been the most instrumental person in my career," he said. "When I joined him I had only run 15.3 seconds and he has brought me all the way through to running 13.3secs. Last year I had a lot of injuries and this winter he really made sure that I stayed fit and did things at exactly the right time. He's got the magic touch, that's for sure."

The pair will have their work cut out to get into the final, though, with their event one of the strongest in the schedule. Neither are ranked in the world's top 20 this year, while the leading three have all run under 13 seconds.

For Eton-educated Clarke, though, a distant cousin of former American president Theodore Roosevelt and dubbed 'The toff of the track' because he is the heir apparent to his father's baronetcy, there is history of Olympic success in the family.

"I recently found out there is actually someone in my family who won a gold in sailing, in Helsinki in 1952," he said. "His name was Julian Roosevelt. But in athletics my family are really behind me. They have all got tickets and are going to be there."