TOM Lancashire is determined to put two years of injury misery behind him and return to the top of the international athletics scene this year.
The 28-year-old Olympic and World Championships 1500m star has become the forgotten man of British track and field.
He stormed to number one in the national rankings, representing his country at all the major international competitions, as well as competing at elite Diamond League meetings all over the world four years ago.
London Olympics supremo Sebastian Coe – himself an Olympic middle distance gold medallist and world record holder – described Lancashire as “world class” before the Bolton star’s fortunes suffered a series of cruel blows with injury and illness.
Now, after six months of injury-free training, the Bromley Cross man is ready to speed back up the rankings.
And he is targeting this year’s Commonwealth Games and European Championships to put his name back in the forefront of British athletics.
“I’ve been running since mid-September, with full sessions since around mid-November and I’ve had no setbacks so far,” said Lancashire, who leads a strong Bolton Harriers team in the Northern Athletics Men’s 12-Stage Road Relay Championships at Heaton Park, Prestwich, tomorrow, 11.30am start.
“I’ve been really cautious and meticulous in my build-up, and apart from the occasional niggle here and there it seems to have paid off.
“I had Achilles tendinopathy and a retro calcaneal bursa which needed to be removed by surgery. I also had a bone shave of my calcaneus (heel bone) – surgery which, basically, was to decompress the area between my Achilles’ tendon and the bone.
“That was in mid-April last year. I had five months without any running at all.
“It’s hard to say what kind of shape I am in, I’ve only just started doing the real quality sessions on the track and they have been solid but I need to race to get a better idea.
“Of course the Commonwealth Games is a target at the moment, although the selection date is quite early (June 1) so I would need to be in shape early, which depends on how well my training goes over next few weeks.
“There is also European champs after, which would be another target. I’m trying not to get too far ahead of myself though and am just focused on getting back into shape.
“After the years I’ve had recently I’m trying not to take anything for granted.”