Dai Greene sets sights on World Cup glory after clearing five-year injury hurdle

Dai Greene says his mental strength can once again make him a force to be reckoned with on the global stage.

Ten days ago the former world champion came back from the sporting dead to land his fifth British title and win a place in this weekend’s Athletics World Cup.

Five injury-plagued years were forgotten as the Welsh 400 metre hurdler overcame adversity to return to the top of the podium.

David (Dai) Greene of Great Britain competes in the men's 400 metres hurdles semi finals during day four of the 13th IAAF World Athletics Championships
Dai Greene powered to world championship gold at Daegu, South Korea, in 2011
(Image: Getty)

“I’ve been dealt a rough hand the past five years, tougher than most,” said Britain’s London 2012 track and field captain. “But not once was I tempted to call it a day.

“I always pride myself on being able to overcome adversity and while there’s no doubt I was getting a s**t hand, I felt it was a challenge that was reserved for me because I could handle it.”

On Sunday the 32-year-old, whose claim to fame was once scoring a penalty for Swansea’s youth team against Real Madrid, goes to the World Cup.

Dai Greene
Greene first across finish line in Daegu
(Image: Getty)

Returning to the London Stadium for the eight-nation event will revive memories of his 2012 Olympic heartbreak when he missed out on a medal by 0.14secs.

There was also last year’s world championships on the same iconic track, which injury forced him to miss during the “darkest” time of his career.

All of which is a far cry from Daegu in 2011 when he first intimidated, then conquered the world with his skinhead haircut, fearless attitude and refusal to accept second best.

Dai Greene
The Welshman prides himself on his mental toughness
(Image: Getty)

“Don’t write me off too quickly,” he warned. “This is an old man’s event – the last two Olympic champions have been older than I am now.

“There are a lot of qualities that go into being a champion. You have to be fast and strong but mental toughness is a big part of it too. I’m desperate to show that all the hard work I’ve put in is not for nothing.”

Greene says he has been inspired by Christine Ohuruogu, Britain’s recently retired Olympic and world 400m champion, who won her second world title six years after her first.

Christine Ohuruogu
Christine Ohuruogu won her second world title in Moscow in 2013
(Image: Getty Images)

“I take a lot of heart from people like Chrissie O who achieved at the highest level, went away for a few years, then came back and achieved again,” he explained.

“Whether I can emulate that we’ll see – that’s a high target – but I won’t stop trying until I don’t enjoy waking up in the middle of winter and grinding out those sessions. When that becomes a chore that’s the time to step away.

“I love competing on the big stage, the bigger the better for me. I’ve never claimed to be the fastest man ever to do the event. I certainly don’t think I’m the most talented person to do the event.

Greene returns to London Stadium where he narrowly missed a medal at the 2012 Olympics
(Image: Michael Steele)

“But I’ve managed to squeeze every bit out of myself along the way. “

Next month Greene returns to the European Championships, the event at which he won his first major title in Barcelona eight years ago. For all his fight, he is keen to manage expectation.

“Winning in Berlin might be a bit of a stretch,” he said. “Even though I have lofty ambitions for myself I am also realistic.

Lorraine Ugen (GBR) of Britain competes
Lorraine Ugen captains Britain at inaugural World Cup
(Image: REUTERS)

“I’ve only just started competing again this summer. I’ll work towards making the final and hopefully running 48-something. That’s a lofty enough ambition for me at present.”

Lorraine Ugen captains the British team this weekend, a fortnight on from jumping a world lead 7.05 metres to claim the British title.

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