This is article three of Stuart Weir’s coverage of the 2023 British Athletics Trials, in Birmingham, England.
Like the women’s, the men’s 60m consisted of three rounds spread throughout day 1. The event did not disappoint. The favorite was Reece Prescod, having already run 6.54 and 6.59 this year. Prescod always looks like an athlete of immense potential who never quite delivers. For example, he eased comfortably into the 2021 Olympic semi-final, only to false-start. In 2022 he ran 9.93 in May but then 10.15 in Oregon and 10.18 in the European Championship.
In the GB Indoor Champs this weekend, Reece ran 6.54 again to win. He summed up his day’s work: “Things are heading in the right direction. I’ve worked hard this winter coming into the indoor season. I ran a personal best this year and came out as a national champion. It’s important to not get too excited, keep the momentum up and just keep working. Training has been fantastic. Living in Italy is where it’s at. We work hard, we train hard, we get the work done”.
Jeremiah Azu, Reece Prescod, Ado Dadzie, British 60m mens’ championships, photo by Getty Images for British Athletics
Jeremiah Azu was a surprise medallist in the 100m in the 2022 Europeans and he took second place yesterday in 6.57. He had a lot to say after the race: “Obviously I wanted to win it, but once you get on the line and you have a battle like that, I came out second but honestly I’m just as happy with the outcome.
“I’m training with Reece now so we’re going to war every training session. It’s good to actually put it out on the track and for people to see. Outdoor, I need to run 10.00 or 9.99 so I can make the team and then go to the worlds. Same again, 100m and 200m, no questions about it.
“Most people can see that I have a really good start and obviously I’m a shorter guy so working on my maximum speed is more important for me. We’ve been doing that with my coach – learning to run properly, starting all over again, things that I thought I was doing right I clearly wasn’t. Started from scratch and I’m loving it because I’m learning every day. I’ve moved to a different country and every day I’m learning something new”.
A fascinating aspect of British sprinting is that its HQ is in Padua, Northern Italy. Reece and Jeremiah both referred their training group. Winner of the women’s 60m, Darryl Neita was the first British athlete to join Marco Airale’s group. Adam Gemili and Ama Pipi are also with Marco.
On Linked-in, Marco describes himself: “In 2019 I started my international experience, first as a Performance Therapist for the Chinese Track & Field team under coach Randy Huntington and later as Assistant Coach to Rana Reider in his group of Olympic and World-Class athletes. In October 2022 I started my own professional group of sprinters based in Italy”.
Reece Prescod wins British Trials 60 meters, photo by Getty Images for British Athletics
When allegations were made against Rana Reider, British Athletics required its funded athletes to cease being coached by Reider. Moving to Airale was an opportunity for continuity. Darryl told me more about Marco and his coaching: “I think Marco is an absolute genius. He ticks every single box, and he covers everything. No corners are cut. We train very hard. He’s just dedicated, focused, and passionate about what he does. He wants to get the best out of us. It’s great. He’s a good coach! For me, Marco is just so refreshing. Working with somebody so hungry and dedicated to what he does is just so nice. He loves track and field. It is literally his passion. And I love track and field as well, so it’s nice to be around someone who is just focused on wanting to be better, to be around someone who brings out the best in you. He creates a light-hearted environment for you to focus on the training at hand and have a bit of fun. I don’t know how to explain it, but I feel happy that I have found a coach I can be with for the rest of my career. It’s a really nice environment”.
Living in Padua (known locally as Padova) is also a bonus. Darryl told me she had a sense of getting away from the busyness of London while at the same time being only an hour and a half from the UK, adding “I’m loving Italy, and the food’s good. It’s a very holistic lifestyle. A lot more relaxed, and it suits me”.