Athletics: Williams quits Wales in bid to end Greene misery
by Phil Blanche,
Dec 20 2010
HURDLER Rhys Williams has quit Wales in a bid to end his track misery at the hands of fellow Welshman Dai Greene.
Williams – the son of Wales rugby legend JJ – cut a frustrated figure last summer when bitter Llanelli rival Greene claimed 400m hurdles gold at both the European Championships in Barcelona and the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
And, having quit the Malcolm Arnold-led camp at the University of Bath where Greene also trains for London’s Olympic neighbourhood, Williams said bluntly: “How can I be mates with someone I want to kill when I compete against him?
“He’s got what I want.”
At the Europeans, Williams had to settle for silver, then trailed in third in India as the world-class Greene won gold again in the red vest of Wales.
Williams, a self-confessed bad loser, refused to indulge in any flag-waving laps of honour, saying it hurt so much.
“I can’t even sit comfortably now and talk about losing in Barcelona and Delhi,” he told the Mail on Sunday.
“It makes me red in the face. Some athletes may be content with mediocrity. Well, I’m not.”
Now Williams, a former European junior and youth Olympics champion, has upped sticks from his Wales home and moved to work under Dan Pfaff – the man credited with Christian Malcolm’s return to major medal-winning form – at the Lee Valley Performance Centre in East London.
“It may be because I was used to winning everything until I got injured and missed the Beijing Olympics,” he said.
“That was so tough I refused to watch a single minute of the Games on TV.
“It’s bad enough when a fellow Brit is beating you, but it’s a hundred times worse when the man you keep coming second to is your Welsh training partner.
“The Welsh are so inward-looking that everything becomes magnified.
“Back home people think, ‘If someone from Wales is beating you, and you can’t take care of business in your own backyard, what chance have you got against the world?’
“It frustrates me how I was beating Dai easily two years ago. Now I have to say that he is a fantastic athlete.
“He has his race sorted down to a tee. He is doing something right, and I’m doing something wrong. I had to change everything.”
New coach Pfaff is regarded as one of the best in the world, which is why UK Athletics lured the Canadian – former coach to Olympic sprint champion Donovan Bailey – to take charge of the performance centre.
Apart from Malcolm, Pfaff has overseen the careers of top British performers like Olympic 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu, European bronze high jumper Martyn Bernard, long jumper Chris Tomlinson, javelin thrower Goldie Sayers and 400m runner Rob Tobin, Williams’ new training partner.
Williams said: “I’ve got the best coach in the world now so I really have no excuses.
“My head’s not been right, which is another reason why I’ve left the comfort zone of Wales and changed my life.
“I beat myself up too much and make life difficult. But the good news is that there is so much more improvement in me, especially when it comes to my slow starts.
“At the end of the Commonwealth final, for example, I could have run 10 laps of honour, I felt that fresh.
“I’m exactly like my father. I have the same mentality, the same desire, the same drive.
“He’s undoubtedly one of the greats of rugby. I want people to say the same of me in athletics.”