James Dasaolu is finally realising his potential. The new European indoor 60m silver medallist and Croydon boy chats to SPIKES about beating injury and going sub-10.
Having admitted to “tearing every muscle in my lower body in the last few years” the career of gifted but injury-prone British sprinter James Dasaolu appeared to be going nowhere.
Yet in a fraction under six-and-a-half seconds at the recent European Indoor Championships, the 25-year-old Londoner landed his maiden senior medal, a mark of the ability many already know he possesses.
“I have run 10.06 [for the 100m], so I always knew the talent was there,” he tells SPIKES. “I’ve just never been able to produce my best because of a mixture of stress fractures, muscle tears and tendinitis. I always knew if I found the right programme and medical back-up to help me avoid injury, I could run so much faster.”
Dasaolu decided to take to the athletics track aged 18, after reading of London’s successful Olympic bid back in 2005.
“I was the quickest at my secondary school and never lost a school sports day,” says Dasaolu, a keen footballer who played “up front and on the wing” for his London district. “A friend and I took up the sport to see how far we would go.”
His hunch proved a wise decision. In 2009, his fourth full season in the sport, he ran a blistering 10.09 in Geneva before injury cut short his season. Repeatedly, that same frustrating cycle has continued.
In 2010 he registered a wind-assisted 10.06 but health issues disrupted his campaign. The following year he posted 10.11 but guess what? You get the picture.
It was only after former UKA head coach Charles van Commenee suggested James join the coaching combination of Steve Fudge and Kevin Tyler (Tyler has since departed to return to Canada) that Dasaolu started to dodge the injuries that have bedeviled his career.
“My coach believes my injuries were down to over-training and technical errors, so the main thing for me was for Steve to manage my training load and make one or two technical changes to the way I run. He had adapted my training to knowing what my body needs.”
Bingo. Injuries kept at bay, the early signs were promising. He qualified for the British 100m team at the London Olympics, reaching the 100m semi-finals, where he finished seventh in 10.18.
Under the guidance of Fudge, his career has kicked on again this winter. Last month he landed the UK indoor 60m title before sprinting to a personal best and joint world leading time of 6.48, in the 60m final at the European indoors in Gothenburg. You can watch it below.
Jimmy Vicaut of France was credited with the same time but awarded gold in a photo-finish. Dasaolu, who is of Nigerian extraction and a keen drummer with his local church group, was philosophical in defeat.
“I was really pleased with a silver medal. I had just won silver running 6.48, which to me is more significant than running slower and taking the gold, because it really is all about the outdoors and the running the 100m.”
“6.48 converts to sub-10 second 100m running,” he says. “Yet I’m under no illusions it is a passport to run sub-10. I know I’ve got to go back to training and work on that last 40m of the 100m.”
Dasaolu: Can I have a hug, please? Not now. Busy.
Dasaolu, pronounced correctly in four syllables: Das-ar–ol-u, will now return to his training group in Loughborough, alongside England’s Commonwealth 200m champion Leon Baptiste.
“Of course, I would love to go one better than I did at the Olympic Games and reach the final. To do that, I’ll probably have to run sub-ten.”
A sub ten-second time does not look beyond him, but can he haul in and compete with the very best the world has to offer, like Usain Bolt or Yohan Blake?
“Those guys are the quickest that have ever been on the planet,” he says. “I’m just hoping to break 10 seconds this season, and take it one step at a time.”