PLYMOUTH’S international hurdler David King is hoping people will help him try to achieve his life-long ambition to become an Olympian.
British champion King narrowly missed out on making the British team for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
His goal had been to compete at this summer’s Games in Tokyo, but they were postponed for 12 months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite winning the British outdoor title three times and representing his country at the World Championships, European Championships and Commonwealth Games, King does not receive any funding and the Olympic delay has left him struggling to maintain his high-quality training.
With sponsorship hard to come by, King, who has been training with an elite hurdles group in America, has recently launched a GoFundMe page to try and keep his Olympic dream alive, which has already raised £1,500 in a couple of weeks.
“I had been working to just get by,” said King. “And last year I had saved up enough to fund up until the Olympics.
“But with the Olympics getting postponed, it means I have to fund another year.
“It was also annoying that with Covid lots of the big money races were cancelled or there was reduced prize money.
“So I have set up a GoFundMe so that I can train another year in America.
“I thought I would see if people would get behind me – and they really have. It has been quite overwhelming to see people donating.”
Although the 2020 season was badly hit by the pandemic, King still managed to run his fastest time in three years, clocking 13.51 seconds to finish second in the 110m hurdles at the World Athletics Continental Tour meeting in Hungary. He also retained his British title and claimed third place in the Diamond League meeting in Doha.
King was delighted with how his shortened campaign went and feels teaming up with a new coach and squad in Phoenix, Arizona, has made a big difference.
“Considering it was a reduced season without the normal build up to it, I was really happy with it,” said King.
“There would have been a lot of stuff we would have done differently in a normal year.
“We weren’t able to use the track and so we were training on grass and there was a lot of training we could not do this year. But we trained well considering – as well as we could – but it certainly wasn’t ideal.
“Then when I did get back to the UK I was training on my own and all the competitions were later than normal and all cramped in a bit.
“But I was really, really happy to run my fastest time in three years off that preparation.
“Yet I didn’t even feel like I had an incredible run. When I ran the 13.51, it wasn’t great, to be honest, but that’s really encouraging.
“If I can get another year’s training under my belt and get back out to Phoenix and do some hurdles sessions with my training partners, then I think I will be in a great position to qualify (for the Olympics) next year.”
“The B standard is 13.38, which is only 0.1 off my PB and I think I can run that,” said King. “If you do run that standard I think you would pretty much go.
“The only way they might not take you would be if you were not ranking that high in the world, but 13.38 will always rank high so I don’t think that would be an issue.
“What is a little bit frustrating is you will get an invite if you are in the top 42 in the world and every year I am in that, but they (British Athletics) won’t take you unless you run 13.38.
“So the goal is to run 13.38 or quicker. I am really hopeful about doing that. The guys in my training group run 13.3s for fun really so if I start hurdles training with them then I think I will be able to do that as well.”
King has been training with top American hurdlers Devon Allen and Freddie Crittenden under the guidance of Tim O’Neil in Phoenix. His switch to a new coach saw him review his technique.
“I did make so many technical changes,” he said. “It showed indoors that it does take a while to get used to them. I might have won the British Champs indoors but I wasn’t running fast and that was just down to the technical changes I’d made.
“But when it came to the outdoor season you could tell that I had made really good progress and that the changes had become more natural.
“I still don’t think it is 100 per cent natural yet, but I will practice more over the winter months and I think come next year it will feel normal to me and I will be able to push harder.
“But the changes are obviously working as I am already running faster.
“In terms of general training it is very different to what I have been used to. There’s way more endurance work. That has helped, but I don’t think it has fully come through yet in my performances. I think you need two years of that. You can’t just have one winter of that and expect to see that much benefit. I think that will really help next year.
“But just my general happiness and enjoyment at training is way more than it was before. The training group is really great. We are all good friends. We hang out after training and a few of us live together. It is great.”
King does not know when he will be able to get back to America due to Covid-19.
“Right now you can’t travel to America from Europe and I don’t know when they might change,” said King.
One option that King is exploring is going to do some coaching in Dubai for a few weeks and then heading to the States from there, but nothing has yet been confirmed.
In the meantime he is back training on his home track at Brickfields after it reopened on Monday following re-surfacing work.
“I am on my off-season,” said King. “I don’t official start again until next week, but I am just doing bits to keep fit now.
“During the season after I returned to the UK I was training at Tavistock and they really supported me. I was able to use the track whenever I wanted, which was great.
“It was nice and quiet there – no-one to disturb me. The only thing is there’s no cover so I had quite a few sessions when I got absolutely soaked. But they were so helpful.”
King might not be getting any funding from British Athletics but he has benefitted from Plymouth City Council’s FANS (Free Access to National Sportspeople) scheme.
“The FANS (free access to national sportspeople) scheme is being quite helpful to me at the moment,” said King. “It means I can use the Everyone Active facilities. With the Life Centre being closed they have moved all their gym equipment to Brickfields and it’s really, really good. I have been going there which has been really helpful.”
Anyone who would like to support King can do so via his GoFundMe page HERE.