Jeremiah Azu athletics

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 17: Gold medalist, Jeremiah Azu of Great Britain, celebrates victory in the Men's 60m Final during day one of the Microplus UK Athletics Indoor Championships 2024 at Utilita Arena Birmingham on February 17, 2024 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Sprint Star Jeremiah Azu Gets Olympic Legend Lynn’s Seal Of Approval

sportswales

By David Parsons

Lynn Davies has welcomed new sprint sensation Jeremiah Azu into the pantheon of Wales’ greatest athletes after he smashed through the 10 second barrier for the first time.

Davies spent half of his career in track and field athletics trying to break 10 seconds for 100 yards and was delighted to see Azu lower the Welsh record for 100 metres to 9.97 sec in Germany last month.

Now, he wants the 23-year-old to set his sights on dipping below 9.90 sec to move into the world class category ahead of this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris.

“I always considered Ron Jones to be Wales greatest sprinter. Then we had Colin Jackson and Christian Malcolm, but now Jeremiah has gone ahead of them all,” said Davies.

“It’s great to think that an athlete from Cardiff is now in the top 10 sprinters of all-time in the UK. He is now a shining example to all the youngsters in Wales of what you can achieve.

“I know he’s training in Italy these days, but he came through the ranks at Cardiff AAC and has simply got faster and faster. Now let’s hope he goes all the way to the Olympic Games in Paris this summer.”

His winning time in Leverkusen rocketed him to the top of the UK rankings this summer, but he was forced to take his foot off the gas in the Diamond League meeting in Oslo during the week as he eased down from being in the mix in a race won in 9.94 sec by South Africa’s Akani Simbine.

Azu eventually crossed the line in a cautious 11.11 sec apparently having suffered a mild bout of cramp. He is due to spearhead the British sprint challenge at the European Championships in Rome between 7-14 June before going on to the British Championships in Birmingham on 29-30 June.

It was in Birmingham in 2022 that Azu announced his arrival as a major force on the British scene as UK 100 metre in a wind-assisted 9.90 sec. In the process he beat the defending European 100m champion Zharnel Hughes.

“Now that he has broken the 10 second barrier with a legal time it is all about being consistently around that time,” added Davies.

“He is now at a different level and the next target for him has to be 9.90 sec. He is in the big time, but to get to the point where you are going to win major medals you have to be approaching Usain Bolt’s world record mark of 9.58 sec.

“It is 60 years ago this month that I ran my fastest time of 9.5 sec for the 110 yards at the White City in a race won by the Cuban Enrique Figuerola. He went on to win the silver medal behind Bob Hayes in the 100 metres final in Tokyo later that year.

“You learn from being in races like that and Jeremiah now knows what it feels like to run that fast. It would be great to see him build on this and potentially go to Paris and reach the final.”

That is very much the goal for the Welshman, who has the individual event and the relay to aim at.

“When I was younger, I would be dying to do athletics in the summer because I enjoyed it so much. But I didn’t really know anything about the Olympics, certainly I didn’t know what it might take to actually get there,” admitted Azu.

“I didn’t even know that a career might exist when you prepared properly and trained every day to try and become an Olympic athlete.

“In the last few years, I have met people like Colin Jackson and been able to learn so much from him. He was raised in quite a rough area of Cardiff, but he was able to live the life he did and work hard every single day to become an amazing athlete.

“That is something I have learned – to get to events like the Olympics takes absolute dedication, every single day.”

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