Series10 Aug 2015

Personal bests – Martyn Rooney


Britain's Martyn Rooney in the 4x400m at the IAAF World Relays, Bahamas 2014 (© Getty Images)

Martyn Rooney secured the first major international title of his career when he won the 2014 European 400m crown in Zurich last summer, and he also was part of Great Britain’s victorious 4x400m team there.

The latest in the long line of outstanding British 400m men ponders our personal bests questions.

My greatest achievement in athletics

The Beijing Olympics (Martyn finished sixth in the final) was massive at the time but winning two golds at the Europeans, running five races and winning all of them, made it a pretty solid week.

My greatest coach

The best relationship I have had with a coach was with Nick Dakin. He is a great human, both on and off the track. Even after I started working with Rana Reider (Martyn’s current coach), if ever I needed assistance or a chat, Nick would always be there.

My greatest piece of advice

The standard one is to look after yourself. When I was younger, I was maybe too nice and I would go out of my way to help other people rather than concentrate on myself. It is quite a selfish thing to think and maybe it is not in my nature to look after number one, but sometimes me putting my athletics first has been a good thing in terms of my performances.

My greatest rival

I have two: Kevin and Jonathan Borlee. We’ve come up through the ranks together and get on really well. We’ve done a bit of training together but because Kevin, in particular, has had so much success and they have both run quicker than me, I guess I’m chasing them.

My most memorable race came against them in Brussels 2013 when I caused a surprise to win the race. The noise of the crowd was incredible and although Jonathan initially was awarded the race, it eventually went to me.  

My greatest friend in athletics

Probably Dan Greaves (the 2004 Paralympic Games F44/46 discus champion). He was a groomsman at my wedding. We see each other every day at the track and hang out quite a bit. We regularly catch up for dinner or just for a coffee. He’s just a solid bloke, a lovely guy. A great person to be around.

My greatest disappointment

Tearing my hamstring in 2009. I was in the best shape of my life and I think it was a chance for me to compete for a medal at the Berlin World Championships, so to miss out on a medal was hard to take. In April, just before my first race of the season, I suffered a big tendon tear. I didn’t run for about eight weeks. I did make it to the World Championships but I didn’t really have a season and lost so much confidence.

My greatest weakness

Chocolate. My favourite one would be the big Milka chocolate bars. Normally, I pick one up at the airport after the end of a race and it is normally gone before the start of the next meet! 

The best track venue

Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing. I just think it is incredible and it gave me goose bumps every day I experienced it. The architecture is incredible. Every time I approached the stadium, I took a picture. The feeling of being on the track and the steepness of the stands took my breath away. I loved it. 

My greatest regret

I don’t have regrets. I have disappointments, but once it is done it is over with.

The best athlete I have ever seen

David Rudisha, when he’s at his best he is just incredible. There is no better sight than seeing Rudisha in full stride, in full fitness attacking down the back straight on the second lap. There is no hiding place with the way he runs. When he is in great shape, he is a phenomenal alien talent.   

Steve Landells for the IAAF