Sprinter Azu says he is more than just a flash in the pan

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Birmingham 2022 gets underway on Thursday with Team England's Housby looking to recreate the magic of Gold Coast four years ago.
Birmingham 2022 gets underway on Thursday with Team England's Housby looking to recreate the magic of Gold Coast four years ago.

British sprint champion Jeremiah Azu is desperate to prove he is far from a flash in the pan at the Commonwealth Games.

The 21-year-old hasn’t been seen on the track since becoming the first Welshman to win the UK 100m title in June.

Azu wants to back up that performance in Team Wales colours and shock the likes of Reece Prescod and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake once more.

“I want to solidify that performance at British Champs,” he said. “It wasn’t a one-off.

“There are probably some people that think (it was a fluke), there will be people on every side of it. In myself, I want to solidify my name and prove to the naysayers I can do it again.”

Agonisingly Azu was one place shy of formally qualifying for this month’s World Athletics Championships in Eugene. He was ranked 33rd with the top 32 eligible.

Instead he was named in the 4x100m relay pool and in line for a major championship debut.

But the Cardiff-born star felt hamstring discomfort in preparation camp and flew back home to prepare for Birmingham.

“If it was the individual, maybe I would have stayed and competed but when it comes to relay, it’s about the team,” he said.

“I would have been on the first leg and I wouldn’t want to risk anything for anyone else. It could have ended my season and we wouldn’t have got the baton round.”

In the end Britain won bronze in the relay, with Azu’s contemporary Jona Efoloko on the first leg, the nation’s fifth medal of the Championships.

Azu wants to get his relay place back but also pursue higher goals.

He said: “I want to show that I’m not just a relay runner, I’m an individual sprinter.

“I don’t want to end my career with relay medals, I want individual medals. Relay medals are amazing, I want to be part of that team, but there’s a reason why the individual comes first.”

Departing British Athletics head coach Christian Malcolm has long been the standard-bearer for Welsh sprinting and has been a key source of wisdom for Azu.

“We’ve got a good relationship,’ he said. “He gives me a lot of time and a lot of advice because he’s been all over the world and done it all.

“I try to feed off him. A lot of people maybe don’t like to take advice but I’ll be soaking up everything. He’s been there for me since the start.”

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