Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and
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Michael Rimmer - August 2010

The man born in Merseyside on the 3rd of February 1986 was a good second in the Barcelona, European 800m Final but his silver lining, to my mind is his  impressive record of five titles in the AAA's/British Championship Final (2006-2010 inclusive). Something none of our illustrious collection of 'World Class' two lap men have ever achieved in the long history of the Championships but, he is entirely realistic about the event which is his speciality, the 800 metres.
   " It is a very difficult race. Incredibly difficult to time that kick to the last 30 metres. It can be almost impossible to do that so, you have got to save something for it."
   In London, on the 13th of July in the Grand Prix, he was out of the frame in 1:46.51 but pointed out ' I got badly boxed and though I moved out I had no momentum and could not do anything about it.'
   Another problem with the  800 running, which I did a lot of at club level in my 20's, is that you don't know if you are going to have a good one or not till you are on the line at the start and he agreed " Sometimes, quite often you do. I think you can even know in the warm up, when you do a couple of strides whether you are going to have a good one or not.'
  With that in mind he admitted he still had a lot to prove over the distance first but might try, after  2012, to go back and do the 1500, with the extra challenge and training needed. He said ' I ran 4:35 as an old 11 year old, which was a British age record at the time so I did start out as a 1500m runner!' (He ran 3:41.1 as  a PB in  April this year).
   There was no doubt that Michael Rimmer has faith in his coach NORMAN POOLE
    ' He is very astute in terms of tactics. A very good tactician. We studied really hard, rigoursly, leading up to the Europeans, watching the tapes of Coe, Cram and McKean and took little pieces from that. We go through it and what we think is best then, he lets me get on with it. He is very good at standing back. He is quiet and waits for me to approach him and talk and not clinging in any way.'  
   Michael Rimmer is lucky enough to have good training partners recently. ' A good little group at the moment. Nial Brooks, 4th in World junior and Tom Lancashire, who leans strongly towards the 1500 partly because of his cross country ability.'
   It was interesting to note that Michael Rimmer' s best times for 800 for the last three years were 2008 1:44.68; 2009 1:46.13; and up to August 2010 1:44.49  (PB in Lausanne in June) and yet, as put to me in the Winter by George Harrison, the North London coach and ex-talented distance runner ' It's ridiciulous that Rimmers'  funding was cut as several sprint relay runners were funded who did not perform as well but, Mike Rimmer had his funding withdrawn when he was injured?"
  Rimmer explains:-
   ' I was quite surprised as well as it was the first time last year I did not post a personal best, Every single year up until I was 23 I did a personal best but just that one year I happen to get injured and ill!'
   I would have thought that was the time you want the support?
   ' Exactly!. The time you want the support and some help is when you are struggling. I was quite baffled but IAN STEWART did a great job in terms of sticking up for me and saying this is crazy and that there should be a level of funding for people who obviously have got potential but have got injured. As you say when I get injured that is the time I was dropped which was a bit strange!'
    He continued ' I don't know if there is going to be a new set of guide lines right now but I think that is something that needs looking at. I think for sure '
   As an 800 runner over the years he obviously must have already had a lot of experience.When I talked Pascar Owor of Belgrave Harriers (On the 8th of August), who has run 800 for Uganda at the Big Games several times he said the 800 was  virtually a sprint all the way and he is going to turn to the 1500 to try and make the 2012 Olympics but in Rimmer's case it must make a  tremendous difference to doing the event that he can run 1:44 for the distance, which he has achieved a few times where as Owsor's best over many years is 1:47.90 sometime ago?
   ' Every time I step on the track I feel I can run 1:44 now.'
  I chipped in saying depending on how the race was run though!
       ' Exactly! In Stockholm recently the first lap was very slow and I was in second place at the finish in 1:45.1, after a slow start so, I think I can race 1:44 any way now. I am hoping there is more there and 1:43 sometime.'
   The AAA's/ Euro Trials he won in 1:47.22.
' I was in the perfect position to handle anything. That was similar, in part, to the Europeans really. I was not really fussed if it was slow. I knew I would be there. Just trying to win the Gold (Final in the European 1 Marcin Lewandowski (Poland) 1:47.07; 2 Michael Rimmer (GBR) 1:47.17; 3 Adam Kszczot (Poland) 1:47.22.).
   I wondered would Michael Rimmer do the Commonwealth in New Delhi ?
  ' I did aim for it at first but 2009 being such a year of turmoil I don't want to go there and, maybe, get injured or something but use this year as a good springboard for next year. I am going to have a good rest. Looking forward to having a nice holiday somewhere I think. Have that break.'
   How did it all begin for Michael Rimmer
   ' 8 or 9 I started running. Quite young really but like any other athlete I was football mad , especially in the Liverpool area everyone's football nuts round there so that was the first sport I got into. It was quite apparent when I was playing football I was quick and had a good engine, On Sports day you could see I stood out from the rest. My Dad Alan was an athletics nut, similar to yourself, and watched it for years and years. He has always secretly, maybe, wanted me to be an athlete. We discussed and argued about my athletics as I was growing up, as we are both so very interested in the sport but he has been a massive influence on me. He took me down to the local club Southport Waterloo AC
and it all started from there really. I did a bit of cross-country but only once a week. He did not push me too hard but he wanted me to realise my talents. He drove me around here, there and everywhere. I got the best of everything. A credit to my Father in all thatt.'
   Michael Rimmer has been placed in Europa Cup's, been to the Olympics and World Championships but what stands out in his racing life as most satisfying?
   ' The thing that changed it for me was the English schools (1:58.14 at Sheffield on the 9th of July 2000)- I was 16 at the time. It was my real first breakthrough. It is like the Olympics for youngsters. I was playing football at the time but that was the moment I knew athletics was for me really. I like the game. I enjoy the feeling of being an individual and doing it on your own. You have got to make the moves yourself and not rely on other people. That was a turning point for me. That still stands out the first English schools.'
   Other one's that stand out?
' Monaco in 2008 when I did my first 1:44 (1:44.68 on 21/7/08)-I had been peppering the 1:44 for a long time. It seemed as though it was never going to come so it stood out for me. Before that I made a massive breakthrough in 2006. I was struggling in my junior years running 1:48  That one race at Watford I knocked 2.9 seconds off my PB. A stand out performance'  (BMC 1:45.47 on the 26/7/06).
   ' Watford is good with the weather with masses of personal bests streaming through. Watford seems the place to run I think. The BMC have done a good job there and there is no pressure everyone is there just to run fast.'
   What sort of training does Michael Rimmer feel helps him greatly?
   ' The most important thing I have found since moving up to Norman's, the most beneficial for me is the hill work. I do 70 miles a week in the Winter, which is standard and what has worked for me is hills. Variations of different hills.10 by a minute uphill, Sets of 10 by 30 seconds, even in the Summer short hills, just to keep that strength which has helped my finish this year over the last  last 150. If I ever end up being a coach, which I would love to do, that is certainly one  thing I would pick up and take over to my coaching. Some of the hill work is very important I think. I was talking to Borzakovskiy, he does a lot of hill work as well. It seems an important factor. It is dynamic power. Being in the gym and squatting and all those sort of things do help but in terms of movement and puting down some power for all the muscle fibres, you are using your whole quad, that is beneficial."
  It certainly will be interesting to follow the exciting future for Mike Rimmer, a likeable character, for quite a few more years to come.

Alastair Aitken

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