With a silver medal from Barcelona and a recent season’s best, Mark Lewis-Francis is one to watch at the Commonwealth Games.
Just two years ago sprinter Mark Lewis-Francis considered giving up on running altogether after an Achilles injury forced him to take a year out. The World Junior Champion and Olympic gold relay medallist found the strength to continue after teaming up with new coach Linford Christie. After his recent silver medal performance in the European Championships 100m, he will be taking on some of the world's fastest in the Commonwealth Games.
After a silver medal in the European Championships, you must have high hopes for the Commonwealth Games?
At the moment I'm taking it all in my stride. The European Championships were a real confidence boost for me and it helped me believe I can go out there and compete with some of the best athletes in the world. The Commonwealth Games are really late in the season and it has been pretty hard to stay focused and strong. However, I'm in pretty good shape and I ran a season's best last month in Split at the IAAF Continental Cup [10.16], so I'm looking forward to it.
The Europeans provided some real highs and lows for you. Firstly the highs: silver in the 100m. What did that mean to you?
It meant a lot - it was my first senior medal in the 100m. It gave me a lot of confidence after having two years of injury and after being out of the sport for so long. That medal gave me the inspiration and ambition to carry on to bigger and better things.
Linford Christie has been your coach for the last 18 months. How has he changed the way you train?
Mentally and physically he has inspired me to carry on and the training we have done has been amazing. I also work with Ron Roddan, who coached Linford to his Olympic gold medal. To have the knowledge of both Linford and Ron is simply amazing. I couldn't ask for anything more.
How does Christie prepare you mentally for the big meets?
He is coaching by experience - this is the guy who has been there and done that. Just knowing that my coach has won Olympic gold, European gold, World gold and Commonwealth medals makes me go out there and dig a bit deeper to see what happens.
On a less upbeat note, the men's 4x100 relay in the European Championships has been heavily criticised by Charles van Commenee [after the team failed to make the finals]. What went wrong there?
A lot of things went wrong. I just don't think it was our day on the day.
You've publicly taken the blame. Why?
I took the blame because I turned around and dropped the baton. We are always told not to turn around and grab the baton. But there were a number of other things that went wrong and hopefully we can move on from that and achieve more at the World Championships and even at the Commonwealth Games.
Has your confidence been knocked in the event?
Not at all - that was the second time I've ever made a mistake in a relay and I've been doing it for years. We went to Zurich after the European Championships and ran a season's best. It just wasn't our day at the European Championships.
Mark Lewis-Francis, the senior medalling athlete has emerged, what are your biggest aims?
My biggest aim is to keep the consistency going and to get my head down for next year's World Championships.
What are your tips for success?
Have focus, discipline, belief - and enjoy it.