By Robert Wheeler
Cardiff Met athletes Joe Brier and Piers Copeland have dreams to race at the Olympic Games – but admit it is more likely to be at Paris in 2024 than this year in Tokyo.
The students both underlined their growing stature on the track with impressive performances at last week’s British Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow.
Brier finished second in the 400m and Brier was third in the 800m after indoor seasons that have been disrupted following the postponement of the World Indoor Championships in China – scheduled for next month – because of the spread of coronavirus.
Back at the National Indoor Athletics Centre at Cardiff Met, where the pair are based, both have spoken about their performances and their long-term targets.
Brier said: “I went up looking to get some competitive races in. I came out with a silver medal which was decent. I wanted gold but I just had nothing left in the last round. But it was a solid run.”
Copeland is usually a 1500m specialist, but he dropped down to 800m in Glasgow and said the decision made in consultation with his coach, Bob Smith, was due to the postponement of the World Indoors.
“We decided to step down to the 800m to test myself against some quicker guys,” said Copeland.
— Piers Copeland (@PiersCopeland1) February 23, 2020
“I just wanted to make the final and see what happened from there. I was really pleased to come away with a bronze and a new Met record so it was a good weekend.”
The athletes are not short of an inspirational role model at Cardiff Met, where Welsh great James Thie is Director of Athletics.
That is especially the case for Copeland who runs the same 1500m distance as Thie.
“James is obviously a great athlete and a great coach with lots of wisdom, so if I can match some of the things he has done that would be really, really good,” added Copeland.
Both athletes have ambitions of competing at an Olympics but with Tokyo just around the corner this one might have come just too soon for two student-athletes.
When asked about his Olympics, Brier added: “More realistically it would be Paris in four years’ time.
Amazing to welcome in two awesome athletes from @Met_athletics – both of whom picked up medals at the British indoors on the weekend, both now have Europe & maybe even the Olympic Games in their sights@joebrier99 & @PiersCopeland1
— Cardiff Met Sport TV (@CMetSportTV) February 25, 2020
“I’ve got an outside chance of Tokyo this year, so I’ve just got to take every opportunity that I can. I think I’m going to have to drop by half a second to be in the mix for the four-by-four Olympic squad. Last year I dropped 0.8 off my PB, so it is do-able but it is going to be hard!”
Copeland added: “Paris is my ultimate aim but I have an outside chance of Tokyo as well.
“The 1500m is one of the toughest events at the moment, with only a maximum of three places available. It is going to be really difficult to get in that team, but I need the time first and then maximise my chances of going.”