ROUNDING the bend during the 2014 Commonwealth Games 400m semi-final in Glasgow, Steven Solomon pumped his arms, drove his legs, and looked certain to reproduce the form that saw him reach an Olympic final two years before.
Then tragedy struck.
Solomon pulled up lame at the midway point, crippled by a torn hamstring.
But, as the three-time Australian 400m champion limped from the track, his face crestfallen, it was not defeat that preoccupied his mind but rather bouncing back, faster and fitter than before.
“The Commonwealth Games, unfortunately, just didn’t go my way,” the 22-year-old Sydneysider told The AJN last week.
“I came back to Australia and straight away my support team at Athletics Australia, my physio and my dad helped me look into options of rehabilitation. And I pretty much got going with things the day I got off the plane from Glasgow to Sydney. That was tremendously helpful for me, having a plan from the start; I didn’t have time to get down on myself or lose motivation.
“I’m now having terrific results with the hamstring, no hiccups since that race and I’m really confident in its strength and speed right now.”
With a little more than 12 months until the Rio Olympic Games, Solomon is proving single-minded in his goals, even deferring his final year of pre-med biology at California’s Stanford University.
“When your setting yourself up for an Olympic Games, you’ve got to make sure you do everything right because the margin for error is so small, especially in the sport of athletics,” he said.
“After sitting down with family and my coaches, we came to the decision for me to come back to Australia, have no regrets and give everything I can towards the Olympic Games preparation so I can get to Rio and be in the best possible position.”
Solomon is currently at training camp on the Gold Coast with coach Iryna Dvoskina and will soon relocate to the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, with a frenetic year of domestic events and selection trials ahead.
If all goes to plan, and the hamstring remains cooperative, Solomon hopes to improve on his race in 2012 that captured the heart of a nation.
“London [Olympics] was a great experience,” he said.
“My goal was to go in and make the final. I was able to achieve that and I’m certainly aiming to ramp up my expectations for Rio. Of course I’ll assess what form I’m in at the time, see how the body is checking, but I’ll be going to Brazil hungry for more success.”