Two-time Olympian Martyn Rooney came out swinging at last week’s European Championships to claim a second continental title and secure his spot at Rio 2016.
After finishing third at the British Athletics Championships in 46.01s last month, Rooney was initially left out of the squad heading to Amsterdam.
But, after a word in the ear of the governing body’s officials, he was given the green light to run and repaid their faith by winning gold, impressing the selectors enough to be included as the third man in the 400m squad.
Now, with just weeks left before the Games kick off, Rooney is happy to be back in the swing of things and cannot wait to get to Brazil.
“The 400m is like a golf swing, people need to find their rhythm,” said the double world relay medallist.
“Once I’ve found my rhythm then I can run 45.0s every day of the week. I just needed to keep running and eventually it would click.
“Three-time Olympian sounds pretty cool, I always dreamed about going to one, so to go to my third one, I am very proud and excited to represent my country on the biggest stage.
“It’s always rocky with me. I’ve always said athletics is 99 per cent failure and one per cent success — this is the one per cent.
“Making the team was tough. I didn’t run well at the trials but I had a second opportunity at the Europeans, and I won it, so it worked out well.”
Rooney’s third Games will mean five Olympics worth of experience in their household as wife Kate [Dennison] competed for Team GB in the pole vault at Beijing and London.
The runner admits he needs kick where the sun doesn’t shine every now and again, with his wife happy to oblige.
“I regularly need that kick up the backside, after certain races when things don’t go right, but then at the same time she can bring me back down to earth when things have gone right,” added the former world junior bronze medallist.
“She just makes sure I don’t feel sorry for myself and now she’s retired she sees the other side of the fence.
“She tells me that I am one of the most privileged people in the world to do something I love, so if I start feeling sorry for myself then I am wasting everyone’s time.
“I’m very lucky, she’s a very strong woman and she keeps me in check.”
Rooney is a graduate of Loughborough University and credits his experiences in what were the BUSA Championships in his day, as a factor in him appearing in three Olympic Games.
Over 60 per cent of British gold medallists since 1992 have participated in BUCS sport, with 56 members of Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics competing for Great Britain at the World University Games.
Rooney will be hoping to add to that percentage when he competes in the 400m and 4x400m relay in Rio, and hopes the Team GB atmosphere will be reminiscent of his time competing at BUSA.
“One of my mates was in the crowd and shouted, Rooney, Rooney, Rooney, Rooney, to the tune of Kaiser Chiefs’ Ruby – then the whole of the Loughborough team followed it with ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ahhhhh,” he added.
“It was cool, I loved that whole atmosphere. Loughborough is a hotbed of talent, I was surrounded by fantastic athletes and people aiming for the top – I was very lucky to be a part of that.”
British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) is the national governing body for Higher Education (HE) sport in the UK, representing more than 150 institutions. Covering 52 sports, BUCS aids grass roots participation through to supporting aspiring elite athletes en route to Commonwealth or Olympic Games www.bucs.org.uk