"It's been a difficult winter in more ways than one," he explained, "and it's just great to be training in the warm, and leaving behind various challenges that have beset us this last few months. We've suffered badly from injuries training in very cold conditions, and all the uncertainty around the future at Crystal Palace hasn't helped."
Early sessions at the group's National Training Center, Clermont, base in Florida have been very positive, although the squad still have a month there, which will also see them compete in two pre-season meetings at both Clermont and Gainesville.
|Day one Stateside - Trackspeed1 UK athletes ease into their |
pre-season training programme at Clermont.
Among the athletes training Stateside are British Junior International Emmanuel Stephens, South of England medalist Dwayne Dowding, British Trials finalist Tope Nuga, former Junior international Jason Hussain, not to mention Christopher Pope, Nathan Gilbert, Oweka Wanogho and Dean Hylton, all of whom hold the potential to turn heads in the sprinting fraternity this year.
Asked about the issues surrounding the future at Crystal Palace, where John has coached for the past 39 years, he was scathing of the way things appear to be going:
"The indoor track looks certain to go with no replacement," he explained, "and the outdoor track will have very little stadium facilities attached to it. I really do despair. I mean, how on earth do speed/power athletes train in a British winter outdoors?
"Anyone who knows London realises that Lee Valley or Sutton are not realistic alternatives for South/East London-based athletes. It's absolute madness. "Legacy"? What legacy? The Mayor keeps talking about investing millions into making London a massive sports city. Really? Like.... REALLY??!!
"Next year sees my coaching career reach the 40-year mark. To be honest I was quite looking forward to making the big five-zero, but what chance of that now? This will be a hammer blow to athletics if it goes ahead, yet whenever you try to engage with any politicians, doors suddenly slam shut in your face. Hidden agendas here? Go figure!"
John currently chairs the Crystal Palace Sports Partnership Board - an increasingly influential stakeholder group attempting to work with the powers that be to arrive at a satisfactory plan for a sustainable future at the Palace. Only time will tell how effective his and that of his colleagues turns out to be!