With many competitions behind him including two Olympic Games in London and Rio and his debut at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, athlete Jack Green is working hard towards a successful European Championships in Berlin this summer. Last year Jack reached the 400m hurdles semi-final at the World Championships in London and came away with a Bronze medal in the 4x400m relay for Team GB. With his recent return from the Gold Coast, we caught up with Jack to discover how his career came about, how much time off he gets from training and competitive events.
Had you always aspired to be a professional athlete?
Not until the age of seven. I wanted to be a zookeeper or an archeologist before that. I still have a love of animals and dinosaurs.
What did you do before becoming a full-time sportsman?
I was just studying at school/college. I was very lucky to turn professional at eighteen so I didn’t do anything ‘official’ before that.
Were there any athletes you looked up to when starting out?
I always admired Maurice Greene. He understood sport was entertainment and he was a huge character. I always enjoyed watching him compete.
Where do you train and have you always trained there?
I currently train at The Canterbury Academy down in Kent. I started there as a child before moving to Bath University and then out to Bradenton, Florida for a year.
How much time off from training do you get during the year?
For one month every year (September typically), I thoroughly enjoy myself and act ‘normal’ for that time.
How was your first Commonwealth Games experience?
I really enjoyed the Commonwealth Games. Australia did a great job of organising and hosting the games, which made sure the athletes could enjoy it. Obviously being able to compete in Australia was a huge perk of the job.
When did you fly out to Australia?
I flew out in February and spent eight weeks out in Australia rather than the three weeks most of the team came out for. I wanted to prepare properly and make sure I gave a good account of myself rather than being hindered by jet lag or lack of acclimatisation to the conditions.
What was it like staying in the athlete’s village?
I’ve competed in two Olympic Games so had experience of villages before, but the Commonwealths is obviously much smaller and it gave the village a much closer feel. You get well looked after with 24/7 food and everything is done to make the athletes experience that much better. It’s good to meet so many other sportspeople and nationalities.
How different was it competing at the Commonwealths to the Olympics?
I had never competed in a Commonwealths before so it meant a lot to me to be there. It isn’t as big on the global scale or media attention as an Olympics, but it still means everything to the athletes competing.
How do you get in the right mindset before a race?
In terms of mindset, for me, that should have taken care of itself in the hard winter months. I rely on the confidence of knowing I’ve done all I can before that race to be in the best possible shape to perform. Then it’s all about controlling the little demons in your head with positive self talk. You have to believe you can achieve.
When an event is televised, how aware are you of the cameras or is it easy to ignore?
You are only aware of the cameras on the start line when you are introduced to the crowd and the TV audience. After that, it’s game time and they are not overly intrusive. You’re so focused on the task at hand that you’d probably not notice them once you’re called to your blocks anyway.
How often do you get to train with the rest of the relay team before a big event?
Our relay squad is very successful, yet none of us train together full time. Before a Championships, we will have several relay sessions in the holding camp to get organised. But, what we do well is socialise together outside of the track. We go for meals or just spend time with each other. That’s the key rather than the track work.
How do you prepare for competitions?
I’m very organised so I’ll spend my time getting everything I need in order, but then after that, the athlete life is pretty much sitting on your bed watching Netflix before it’s time to head to the track.
Have you always competed at 400m, or are there any other distances you’ve trained at?
I wanted to be a 100m runner as a seven year old, as we all do. I moved up to the 800m and cross country as a kid as well as competing in the high jump. I then started running 400m at fourteen before starting the 400m hurdles because I am so tall.
What was your first competition that you competed in?
The first competition I competed in would have been the District Athletics Championships as a seven year old. I’m still unbeaten in the Shepway District of Kent.
When did you get into hurdles?
I started hurdling when I was fifteen. I didn’t do any before then. Probably why it’s taken me so long to become a good hurdler rather than a tall fast runner.
What’s been your most challenging competition so far?
Every competition these days feels challenging. I’ve been competing at the top level for eight years now and there’s no such thing as an easy race. But the challenging competitions bring the most out of you and that’s what it’s all about.
What competitions do you have in the next few months?
It’s all about working towards the European Championships in August. We have some fantastic hurdlers in Europe so it will be really competitive but I plan to get amongst it!
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