It’s been over two months now since Craig Mottram ran the 5,000m at the World Athletics Champs in Daegu, South Korea – his first appearance at a major championship on the track since the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Upon his arrival back in Melbourne following the race, Mottram had a few laid back weeks after a year that saw him climb back onto the world stage of athletics. “I had a few easy weeks after Daegu where I just ran around. These weeks were spent at home pottering around the house. I spend a lot of the year away from home so when I get home there is a lot to catch up on.”
Mottram has also been catching up with the Melbourne running-scene, working out with his new group before heading to altitude training in Falls Creek last week. “I have kept quite busy with a solid block of training. I have a great group of guys I train with in Melbourne and we have been consistent in having a good time while maintaining a high level of work. I along with Chris Wardlaw and Allan Failla (training partner, good friend and assistant coach) have built a strong group that train together 3-4 times a week in Melbourne. Our group consists of several national champions and up and coming stars of our sport. We have a great time training hard with our focus being to improve each other quietly and consistently.”
This year has been all about development for Mottram – getting stronger after an injury layoff and slowly getting back to a level where he can be competitive on the world stage again. While many athletes would do this in solitude – shying away from competition knowing that they wouldn’t be where they once were, Mottram took the opposite approach. This year he built up in training but also wet his appetite for racing, which included a Top 20 finish at the World Cross Country Championships and a 6th place finish over 5,000m in 13:11 at the Birmingham Diamond League to hit the Olympic Qualifier. “World Cross was a solid result and I really enjoyed the trip. Gaining an Olympic Qualifier for 5k was the target for me this year and to knock that off early on in Birmingham was great. There are still some hoops to jump through before being named in the team. So I guess you could say I had a productive year. I did not set the track on fire but I ticked the boxes that are required to ensure that I go into next year with the best chance to go to the Olympics.”
Before shattering the Olympic Qualifier, Mottram was based in Boulder Colorado – one of the USA’s most popular locations for distance runners. Situated at a similar altitude to Falls Creek in Victoria, Mottram laid the groundwork for his European comeback, yet heading into London he is undecided where he will base himself. “At this stage I have not confirmed where I will be at any given point in 2012. Boulder was great and I really enjoyed training with Lee Troop (Three-time Olympian in the marathon) and his group while I was there. All the guys made me feel very welcome and we had a lot of fun. I will train hard in Australia over the summer and make a decision on where I will do my altitude blocks after our selection trials in March 2012.”
If he toes the line in London, it will be an unprecedented fourth consecutive Olympics for Mottram. Since competing in his first Olympics in Sydney, Mottram has had mixed results. An outstanding 8th place in Athens was followed by the disappointment of missing the final in Beijing almost four years ago. This time around is a different story; Mottram has a whole new perspective and attitude. “I will be enjoying myself. I have geared my build-up to ensure that come 2012 I am well prepared to do all that is required to give myself the best chance to compete well. The overall goal for me has been to be at my best for the London Olympics. Everything is going ok.” Although he has not confirmed any races, Mottram will look to compete domestically in Australia as often as it fits into his schedule ,which will give Australians a glimpse of the hero from the 2006 Commonwealth Games as he continues his journey back to the top of the sporting world.
Although being based up at Falls Creek for the majority of the summer, he is still looking forward to the little things that summer is all about in down-under. In fact, he even fancies himself at the crease. “I love a bit of backyard cricket, I wonder if I’ll have a chance of recruiting those cricketers from Pakistan out of prison anytime soon?” Whether or not he succeeds in putting together his formidable 1st XI, Craig Mottram is well on his way to putting it all together where it means the most – the London Olympics.Visit Runner's Tribe for your running news and all the latest information on Australia's track and field athletes.