"The Commonwealth Games has always been my goal" - Joe Brier looks ahead following huge weekend.
Image- Alex Livesey - British Athletics via Getty Images.
Joe Brier is preparing himself for a trip to Poland after running a personal best on the weekend to qualify for the European Indoor Athletics Championships.
The 21-year-old ran the qualifying time this past weekend in an event in Manchester, and was named as one of 41-athletes to represent Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the championships in Torun, Poland next month.
Brier has competed twice in the past two-weekends in Manchester, with this past weekend seeing him put in impressive performances, beating his personal best for the indoor 400 metres twice, as well as setting a new club record for Cardiff Metropolitan University, where he currently is studying his master’s degree in Sports Broadcasting.
“It was a bit of a mental weekend really. We had the first round on the Saturday where I just went, what I thought was all in." Brier said following his success.
Brier won his final heat on Sunday with a time of 46.81, beating a Cardiff Met record of 46.96 held by Gareth Warburton that has stood since 2006.
“I ran a personal best which I was happy with, but it wasn’t what I really wanted, on Sunday on the day of the final, my coach just said “Run Faster” basically.
“Go out a lot harder, finish a lot stronger and the time will be there, just be patient with it."
The words by coach Matt Elias must have worked, as Brier won by around half a second, with fellow Welshman Owen Smith coming in second with a time of 47.40.
“I just went out as hard as possible and carried on going, and worked extremely hard in the final 100 metres, and came out with the European championships qualifying time, Cardiff Met record, so yeah, I was pretty happy with that.”
At 21-years of age, Brier still has a long career ahead of him, and qualification for the Championships in March is a huge step forward towards bigger things.
“It’s my first senior individual vest, I did the exact same competition two years ago in Glasgow, but I was only part of the relay team, and I enjoyed that so much and loved every minute of it, I wanted to do more races so that’s why I was working so hard to get picked for the individual event as well as the relay this time.”
In a tough field of runners, the first individual event will be competitive but anything can happen on track, something Brier mentioned when talking about what he is aiming towards for the upcoming competition.
“The main thing to get out of it is just get the experience of it so it leads onto more competitions come the summertime.
"I want to get as far as possible in the individual events so whether that means just making the semi-final, I’d be more than happy just to make the semi-final, but to make the final would be incredible because anything can happen there, people could trip, and you could come through and win the race, so my main goal is to make the semi-final, but I’ll take every round as it comes."
While 2020 was mostly a year to forget in the sporting world, as vaccines roll out things look to be set for a return to some sort of normality, including the return of competitions, and with the Olympics that were set to take place last year now set to go ahead this summer, it's a big thing for athletes in Wales, like Joe Brier to be working towards.
“It’s a huge year, getting experience in the European Championships only acts as a steppingstone to bigger competitions such as the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games.
"Since I was younger, the Birmingham Commonwealth Games has always been my goal. In 2014 I was only 14 so I was way too young, in 2018 I didn’t get near the standard so I wasn’t really expecting to go to that, so I was thinking 2022 Birmingham was the one, and I’m pretty close to the standard as it is at the moment so hopefully, I can push onto that.
“Regarding the Tokyo Olympics, I’m sort of in the mix as well, I’m part of the relay set up at the moment that British athletics have got set up. So, it’d be good to be involved in that, It would be an incredible experience to go to Tokyo and be in the Athlete’s Village with huge names in the sport would be inspiring.”
It's not been easy for athletes in Wales during the pandemic, including in the latest set of restrictions. Track access has been limited for many, and even during a moment of success for himself, Joe Brier still is thinking of others across Wales that will be hoping they can return to normal training in the not too distant future.
“I'm fortunate enough to be one of the lucky ones to get back on the track training. There are hundreds of athletes across Wales at the moment who can’t even get on a track, so I’m incredibly lucky to be able to train properly, and race on the weekend as well as go away to the European Championships next Wednesday.
"But hopefully in the next two to three weeks we’ll be able to get back to training normally and have more athletes able to train and push for their goals which we’ll eventually be the Birmingham Commonwealth Games."