Ryan Gregson is among one the world’s top 1500m runners. The Australian record-holder shares his memories of his debut campaign competing on the European circuit.
“I can clearly remember the first time I arrived in London for my first season on the European athletics circuit in 2009 as a fresh-faced 19-year-old.
“My fellow Melbourne Track Club members Collis Birmingham and Nick Bromley waited to pick me up at Heathrow Airport before we rode the bus to the group base in Teddington.
“I remember being so excited to start my journey as an elite athlete, and stay in a house that had been occupied by so many MTC athletes, whom I admired so much. Collis was a World Championships 5000m finalist, a tough competitor and a leader of the group, who went on to make my early years as comfortable as possible as he took me under his wing and showed me the ropes.
“Nick, a four-time Australian 800m champion, is the king of the one-liners and there are few people in the world who can make me laugh more.
“Competing on the European circuit proved an eye-opening experience. Coming out of the Australian domestic scene as a 3:37 athlete, I was used to being among the favourites in most races. Yet in my first season competing overseas my best time was 3:37.24, which ranked me only 68th in the world in 2009. The depth was incredible, and I realised that year that if I faded over the last couple of hundred metres, I could quickly move from third to 10th.
“Looking back, I didn’t achieve the results I wanted, although I probably had unrealistic expectations. I was little naïve and had expected to improve every race. But travelling to Europe as a 19-year-old and enduring some sub-par performances taught me the value of trying to improve for the future.
“I laugh now, but back then I was not the best domestically. I was a terrible cook and I didn’t know how to use a washing machine – all around I was pretty useless!
“Yet looking back, I feel so blessed my coach (Nic Bideau) gave me the opportunity to go to Europe and set me up in a great training environment at Teddington.
“It was an experience which allowed me to flourish in 2010 when I enjoyed a fantastic year, setting an Australian 1500m record.
“Over time my appreciation and love of the lifestyle of travel, training, racing and being part of the world’s biggest meets has grown eight years on from my first season in Europe.”
Steve Landells for the IAAF