PLYMOUTH’S David King is hoping 2020 will be the year he achieves his long-held ambition to compete at an Olympic Games.
International sprint hurdler King agonisingly missed out on competing at the 2016 Games. He thought he had clocked the qualifying time to make the plane to Rio, but a 13.40 second run achieved in Switzerland was not ratified as there was an issue with the automatic timing.
He did represent Great Britain at the 2017 World Championships, and has also competed at the World Indoor Championships, European Championships and Commonwealth Games.
But he wants to be an Olympian and after a frustrating 2019 campaign, King has decided to start training in America to try and make his dream happen.
“I’m in Phoenix training with a few of the best guys in America,” said King while enjoying a Christmas break with his family in Plymouth.
“I had been with James (Hillier in Bath) for seven years and I just felt I needed to try something else to try and bring my results up and keep progressing.”
King is training with top American hurdlers Devon Allen and Freddie Crittenden under the guidance of Tim O’Neil. Allen is a three-time America champion and came fifth at the last Olympics. He has run 13.03 seconds for the 110m hurdles.
King got chatting with the pair while racing against them and things just went from there.
“It just sounded amazing what they had there and they wanted to grow their group a little bit,” said King. “When they said I should go over, I jumped at it.
“We train at Devon’s old high school. He’s got good contacts there and they’ve got amazing facilities.
“It has been really good, but it has been a big step both financially and generally. I’m there on a tourist visa so I’m not working or anything, but it’s just like a big push before the Olympics.
“I’m pretty much biting the bullet – just saying this is it for the Olympics. If it pays off brilliant, but if not, I will keep on trying.”
He added: “It has been a big move, but I knew I had to change something as I felt if I just kept doing what I was doing then I wasn’t going to qualify.
“I just felt I needed to do something out of my comfort zone.
“I remember when I moved to Bath seven years ago my eyes were wide open all the time. I was watching all these amazing athletes train and I was so inspired by it, but I remember my last year in Bath I was tired turning up the track every day – I had got bored with it.
“Now it feels exactly the same as when I went to Bath at first. I am just watching all these good guys train and trying to chase them down.
“I’m almost amazed that I can train with these guys as they are so good.”
King won the British Championships again in 2019 but did not qualify for the World Championships and was not able to lower his legal PB of 13.48 seconds for the 110m hurdles.
“There was just something not clicking last year,” said King. “I even felt it during my training. There was just something missing.”
King just felt he needed a change and to try something different.
“I have changed so much already,” he said. “We are doing way more endurance stuff, which is something I haven’t really done before. I’m running further than I have ever run before, it has nearly killed me, but it has been a welcome change.
“It is nice to have a different focus. What I was doing with James was really good, but maybe we were focusing on the bits I had already become good at.
“The hurdling side (in America) is also way more technical than anything I have done before.”
King knows he cannot expect the changes to bear fruit straight away but he is optimistic it will work.
“There is definitely enough time to the Olympics,” he said.
“The coach knows what he is doing. He won’t change anything that could see me getting slower.
“It may take a while for all the changes to click, but you never know it might click straight away.
“I’m going to do the indoors and, to be honest, I have absolutely no idea how I will go.
“I will do a couple of races in America but will come back for the European circuit. When I go back next week I will only be there for four or five weeks and then I will be back here racing again.”