Reece Prescod insists he has to think about the “bigger picture” after opting not to compete at next month’s Glasgow European Indoor Championships – an event at which he would be overwhelming favourite to win gold.
Despite only competing once this season, Prescod sits top of the European 60m rankings with his personal best 6.53 seconds from earlier this month. Both he and Chijindu Ujah are expected to dominate their British rivals at the Birmingham Indoor Grand Prix on Saturday, but neither have made themselves available for selection for Glasgow.
Not only does that mean Britain will struggle to extend a record of at least one male 60m medallist at the last 16 editions of the event, but it means Prescod, who won European 100m silver last year, will forego a huge chance to win the first major senior title of his career by putting all his energy into preparing for the World Championships later this year.
“It’s always good to have a medal but actually what’s the bigger plan?” he said. “Do we want to push training out for another two or three weeks, be tired for one more week, not get a break and come straight back in [for outdoor training]? We made a performance-based decision rather than hype. A lot of people get caught in hype and the big thing for me this year was just to think.
“Stop and say ‘forget everything’. No emotion, no nothing, just be logical: ‘what’s the goal this year and what’s the aim?’ “People don’t understand it: ‘you guys are sprinters, you should run at every competition, you should win this and that.’ But there’s a bigger, deeper meaning behind it.”
Three events to watch in Birmingham
- Men’s 1500m, 3.33pm: One week after missing the world indoor mile record by just 0.01sec, Ethiopia’s Yomif Kejelcha looks to break Hicham El Guerrouj’s 22-year-old world indoor 1500m record set six months before he was born.
- Men’s 60m, 3.55pm: Reece Prescod is the fastest man in Europe this year, but he faces a close battle with China’s Su Bingtian, who won world 60m silver in Birmingham last year. American Michael Rodgers is also a threat.
- Women’s 60m, 4.05pm: Jamaica’s double Olympic sprint champion Elaine Thompson makes her indoor season debut up against double world medallist Marie-Josee Ta Lou, of Ivory Coast, and British champion Asha Philip.
Prescod’s decision to sacrifice a likely medal is part of a wider shift in his life that he says involves “making smart decisions” both on and off the track.
“Last year the season went well but it could have been better. I could have done more,” he said, of a year that saw him move fourth on the British all-time 100m list with a personal best 9.94sec.
“There are still guys out there who are faster than me, doing better things than me so it’s about how I get better.
“Last year I was big on Fifa and playing it a lot. This year I’ve replaced it with listening to podcasts and reading.
“When I’m driving to places, last year it was house mix all the way – boom, boom, boom – and two hours later I had a headache. This year it’s podcasts. Before, I liked to go out but now it’s 1am and I’m like, ‘why are you out?’
“Small decisions make a big difference. It’s making professional-based decisions rather than get caught up in silly stuff.
“Even the little things like starting your morning – the things you do set the tone for the day but you don’t realise it.
“If I listen to chill music and get to training I’m in a nice, positive space. But if I put on something aggressive in my car, when I get to training I’m completely in the wrong mind to go and learn skills.”
With Prescod and Ujah – the only two British men to run the European indoor 60m qualifying standard this season – not eligible for selection, a host of other sprinters will be desperate to dip under that 6.60sec mark in Birmingham on Saturday before the team is confirmed the following day.