FORMER Alcester Grammar School student Andrew Pozzi has spent the week revelling in the glory of clinching his first world title.
The 25-year-old Stratford Athletic Club star, who shared Great Britain team captain duties with women’s 800m bronze medallist Shelayna Oskan-Clarke, won gold in the most dramatic fashion imaginable in Sunday’s World Indoor Athletics Championships 60m hurdles final at Arena Birmingham.
Having powered into the final thanks to hugely impressive wins in the heats and semi-finals, Pozzi left himself with much to do in the final after hitting a hurdle early, but recovered in blistering fashion to haul in Jarret Eaton and pip the American on the line in a time of 7.46secs.
Pozzi, who was crowned British champion at the same venue a fortnight earlier, had laid down a marker with a superb semi-final win and, despite not being as fluent in the final, had more than enough to see off the challenges of much-fancied Frenchman Pascal Martinot-Lagarde and 2012 Olympic 110m hurdles champion and world record holder Aries Merritt of the USA.
After years of injury heartache which stifled his chances of world medals, an elated Pozzi was the toast of the Second City and his emotion was clear for all to see.
“I can’t describe how much I wanted it. I’m happy there were pictures that do the moment justice,” said Pozzi.
“I just lost my head to be honest. I was running around and jumping. I’m not usually a particularly expressive person, not in public, but so many of my close family and friends were there and I can’t thank enough the people who came out and supported us. We all took so much energy from that.”
Pozzi suffered a hamstring injury which denied him the chance to shine at London 2012 before competing at the Rio Olympics in 2016, only to miss out on the 110m hurdles final. However, he has bounced back to win gold at the 2017 European Indoor Championships and now, after finishing fourth in the previous two World Indoors events, has proved himself to be the cream of the crop.
On the horizon now is April’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in Australia and August’s European Athletics Championships in Berlin, but for now Pozzi has allowed himself the chance to bask in the most hardest earned of athletics glories.
“Walking out for the heats on Saturday, I took so much strength from that period out injured. It truly made me a much better athlete,” added Pozzi.
“I changed so much, far more mentally than physically. Mentally it really strengthened me. Now I relish every opportunity to compete. I don’t get nervous in the same way because I think about everything I’ve come through and all the hard work I’ve done to get here.
“My heart stopped at the end there. I knew the fifth hurdle I was behind and I can’t describe how much I wanted it.
“I was throwing my body at the line. To be voted co-captain for the championships is the biggest honour of my life. Every member of the team has been perfect.”
Great Britain’s two-time men’s 110m hurdles world champion Colin Jackson said: “Pozzi had a great heat, a wonderful semi-final and then, when the pressure was on, won the final.
“Even though he made some mistakes, he kept a cool head and hauled himself back into contention. He drove very hard for the line. What a well deserved victory.”