Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
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Richard Yates (August 2016)

Richard Yates (Born 26/01/86) runs for Sheffield & Deane AC and his coach is Stephen Bell.
Yates runs for City of Sheffield in the Premier division of the British League and in fact has been competing, with noted performances since he was an Under 17 athlete. In 2016 he had already been competing for sometime in his specialist event the 400 hurdles and managed to duck under the magic 50.00 for it eleven times but it is noted, he is versatile as a competitor as he has also run 1:53.66 for 800m in a British Milers Club Gold standard race at Stretford in July 2013, as well as 1:53.89 in a BMC race in 2014 also at Stretford. His personal best for 60m indoors was 7.23 and 10.98 outdoors for the 100; 21.95/21.6, for 200 plus 47.29 for 400m. He has also run 14.68 for the high hurdles.

We talked, after he won the English/CAU Inter Counties at Bedford on the 31st of July. He won the final in 50.64. About that Richard Yates remarked “It was a bit windy in the back straight so the time was not as good as it could have been. I think it would have been nearer 49 seconds, if there had been a tailwind on the back straight. We had to use a lot of energy to get to hurdle 5. It is harder to come home strongly when you have expended a lot of effort down the back straight’

Richard Yates has won quite a few hurdle races on the Continent over the last few years so, when did it all begin for him
“I started running when I was 4. I went down to Sale Harriers with my Mum Lynne Yates and, she is still running long distances. When I was younger, rather than sit inside, playing computer games, I preferred to run and I have been hurdling since I was 21.’

His take on what he felt were his achievements ‘ Winning the UK Championships for 400 hurdles and getting into the Final of the Commonwealth Games twice. (Delhi October 10th in 2010 he was 5th in the Final in 49.84 and 7th in 2014 in Hampden Park in 50.13 -5th in the Final in 49.84). I got a bronze medal in the 2010 Commonwealth Games Relay (3:03.97-Conrad Williams 45.7;Nick Leavey 46.5; Richard Yates 46.28; Robin Tobin 45.9. Australia won from Kenya but behind England were Bahamas, Botswana and Wales).

Which one race has stuck out for him?
“The first time I ran Under the 50.00 seconds barrier, seemed a really tough one to break. I went from a PB of 50.6 to 49.5 (1st in Istanbul on 20/6/2008)

It was considered amazing, in the late 1950’s, when Glenn Davis (USA), two times Olympic Champion, broke the 50 barrier in the 400m hurdles  as, it was with Gert Potgieter of South Africa breaking through with a sub 50’ 440yards.
I knew David Hemery well and I was in Mexico when he ran so fast and, won the Olympic title. I spoke to John Akii-Bua and his coach Malcolm Arnold in Munich after that final.

“David Hemery is a good man. There is a mutual respect between 400 hurdlers. I recently saw that film on Akii-Bua and his coach Malcolm Arnold. The 400 hurdles is a ‘Man Killer’, they call it but, as I say there is a mutual respect amongst the hurdlers’

Of the more recent hurdlers anyone you have a very high regard for?
Felix Sanchez (Olympic 400 hurdles Champion 2004 & 2012). I was lucky enough to race him quite a few times and managed to build a good friendship with him as well. He is probably my favourite one ‘Superman!’

‘He ran when he was not in good shape and finished well down the field in some Diamond leagues?
‘He did run when he was not in great shape and, not throwing himself into it. It is the bigger picture for him when it matters’

How long will you go on hurdling at a good level?
‘For another two years then I will probably stop. I am 30.’

Still you could carry on after that and some do, like high hurdler Roger Kingdom did?
‘It is a technical event so the older you get, the better technique you have if you can stay fit. Nothing to say you should stop yet as long as you are fit. Sanchez was 35/36 when he won in London ’

His coach is Steve Bell of Manchester. “He has got a couple of girls in the Olympics in the 400m.
He is a good traditional hard working coach. He gets us fit and sharpened up. A lot of hard heavy sessions through the winter based. He then gets us sharpened up in March/April

Over distance work?
“400 hurdles are basically a 500, as you are racing for longer than you would on the flat. You have got to be able to run a good 5 or 600. Some good hill sprints to generate that lactic acid so, coming off the last hurdle you are strong as you can lose race coming off the last hurdle. Just get stronger, if you have done the work, you can go into a race confident.

(PS I did an interesting  interview with 2016 Olympic Champion in Rio Kerron Clement for the Hihgate Harriers website back in 2009)

Alastair Aitken

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