Gregson sees himself as 'underdog'

ATHLETICS

Wollongong middle distance runner Ryan Gregson admits his lead-up to the Australian Championship has been "terrible" and considers himself an underdog to claim the national 1500-metre crown on Saturday and Sunday.

In what has been a horror three months, the London Olympian has suffered illness and injury before the new athletics season.

Gregson has battled patellar tendonitis since November and had to overcome a sacrum stress fracture.

As a result, the Australian record holder has barely been able to prepare on the track, with less than a month of training.

He will contest the heats of 1500m on Friday afternoon but has almost no expectation for his performance.

"I have no idea how I will go," Gregson said.

"I have cross trained hard as you are supposed to but I certainly can't promise anything. I will be going into this weekend as an underdog."

If Gregson can win through his heat, he expects the decider to be a tactical race which could work in his favour.

"The final will be slow. It will be a tactical affair and I have a nice sprint if I am travelling well," Gregson said.

"But I could come last in my heat tomorrow ... it is my first race of the season."

The Australian Championships provides runners with an opportunity to set a qualifying time for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow later this year.

And while Gregson knows he is far from peak condition, he believes his ambition to compete at his first Games could provide a minor boost.

"If this weekend I can perform well it will put me in good stead for the Commonwealth Games," Gregson said.

"I have never been to one. Four years ago, I was a favourite to get a medal and I got a stress fracture in my foot about a month out.

"It was a hard pill to swallow because I would love to go to one of these games one day and win a medal. Hopefully it will be this year."

If unsuccessful, it won't be the end of the road for the Wollongong-born star.

Gregson will have until June to reach the qualifying time for the Games.

He intends to travel to a Californian training base next week where he will target races throughout April and May to post a time if required.

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