By Liam Moakes 31/07 Updated: 01/08 09:49
SPRINT hurdler Andy Pozzi will have the privilege of beginning his London 2012 campaign knowing nobody has run faster in the Olympic Stadium - and he is convinced that gives him an advantage in his pursuit of a final place in the 110m hurdles.
The 20-year-old former Alcester Grammar School student has enjoyed a stellar year in 2012, finishing fourth at the World Indoor Championships in March before claiming UK Championships gold and trimming his personal best to 13.34 seconds at Crystal Palace this month.
He has also won gold at the British Universities & Colleges Sport Championships - held at the Olympic Park - in a time of 13.35, ensuring it will be his name next to the 110m hurdles stadium record as the Games begin.
Pozzi is under no illusions as to the task that awaits him even to reach the final though and he is currently the joint 26th fastest in the world this year and is in an event featuring China's 2004 Olympic and 2007 world champion Liu Xiang and Cuba's 2008 Olympic champion Dayron Robles.
However, the 2011 European junior silver medallist believes his inside knowledge of the London 2012 track can catapult him into the medal showdown.
"I'm feeling in very good shape and would like to set a personal best and, if possible, in a semi-final which would give me the best chance of making that final," said Pozzi.
"I have the stadium record and that's very nice indeed, but it's also very useful having been in the stadium.
"For the test event (the BUCS Championships) they used the same call-up procedures, the same call-up times. I got to know how far the walk from the warm-up track to the track is.
"All these things are things that I don't need to worry about when I compete and it means I can just focus on my performance. I feel far more at ease with the stadium and not being overwhelmed.
"Generally speaking, I do actually think it's going to be an advantage. I know what the conditions are like on the warm-up track and then into the actual stadium.
"You know you can expect less wind in the stadium compared to the warm-up track, so it's not something to get flustered by if it is very windy when you're trying to warm up."
Pozzi certainly has burst on to the scene in 2012 but he is quick to refute the claim he has come from nowhere - citing the foot injury that severely hampered his 2010 season.
The fact remains, however, that he has taken the international stage by storm whenever he has worn a British vest - and he lists his ability to rise to the big stage as his best attribute.
"I didn't surprise myself too much as to how quickly I came about. Most people don't really have a clue of where I've been in the last year or what I've been doing," he added.
"My experiences at the World Indoor Championships give me more confidence. The fact that I can turn up to a major championship and run my fastest time, when I needed to, gives me great confidence.
"Hopefully I can emulate that at the Games. I often need to be very nervous or fearful to get the most out of myself."
Lloyds TSB are a proud supporter of Team GB and proud partner of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Get closer to the Games at lloydstsb.com/london2012.
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