Guy Learmonth is the rebel with a definitive cause. An outlier desperate to break into the 800 metres elite while following his own path rather than the herd. Convention, for the Borderer, is the route to mediocrity. Been there, got the T-shirt, decided it did not fit as snugly as advertised.
Following the ankle injury that stalled his bid to chase 800m success at the world indoor championships earlier this month, the 25-year-old is poised to make his return to the fray at this week’s Queensland Classic in Brisbane where a hefty contingent of British hopefuls will get one last tune-up for the Commonwealth Games.
Preparations have been undertaken at Scotland’s base on the Sunshine Coast, where a full-sized running track, physios on tap and high-tech gadgetry have been laid on to encourage peaks, when they matter most, in two weeks’ time.
Very different to the eclectic training ecosystem constructed back in Berwick where a towpath adjacent to the River Tweed is his home straight and his parent’s home subs in for his high performance hub. Very much more to his taste after quitting UK Athletics base in Loughborough with a sense of frustration that they were not catering to his particular needs.
“My Dad converted his garage into a gym and that’s got all I need. And that’s why I wasn’t really surprised when I didn’t get Lottery funding last year even though I was doing really well, probably better than British Athletics expected. In a way, I guess that shows up the system. It doesn’t work for everybody. I like to do different things.”
Some might bill the regime devised in conjunction with his long-time coach Henry Gray eccentric. Flexible, the Scot says.
He started skipping recently to the schedule poached from boxer Floyd Mayweather. “That would have been frowned upon in Loughborough,” Learmonth smiles. “I think they over-think the science part there. They obsess about sitting down with iPads and videoing every single rep or projecting way into the future based on numbers on a treadmill. What I do now is simpler. It’s about running and I really enjoy that.”
Sixth at the 2014 Commonwealths in Glasgow, Learmonth craves much more second time around. 2017, he acknowledges, brought meaningful breakthroughs. A properly menacing personal best. Advancement to the semi-finals of the world championships in London.
But, he underlines, “We want medals now. And Henry has that mindset as well, and everyone around me, we all want to bring home some medals now. We’ve done enough finals, we’ve done enough messing about.”
Time to bring it all home.