Seb gets the runaround but still qualifies for Olympics

Seb Rodger
Seb Rodger

Eastbourne’s 400m hurdler Seb Rodger said Olympic selection was ‘a dream come true’ despite his troubles with British Athletics.

Rodger, 25, was forced to qualify for next month’s Games in Rio in bizarre and nail-biting circumstances. Despite winning the British title on June 26, Rodger was surprisingly omitted from the squad for the European Championships held in Amsterdam earlier this month.

It was a decision that baffled many and left Rodger frantically searching for meets across Europe in order to achieve the Olympic qualifying time.

The Eastbourne athlete simply refused to give up on his dream and despite missing the required time in France, he eventually achieved the qualifying standard as he clocked 49.29sec in Belgium last Monday - just one day before the Olympic deadline.

Selectors finalised their team for Rio on Wednesday and this time Rodger was not overlooked.

He said, “It is no secret that we (British Athletics) have not seen eye to eye. I had to do this the hard way and it has been a draining process both physically and mentally.

“I have had so many highs and lows. I won the British and the very next day I heard I wasn’t in the Euros - the rug was pulled from under me.

“I felt they were messing with my life and career. It was a shock to be left out, my team and I couldn’t believe it and other athletes couldn’t believe it either. The support I received from everyone was great and it kept me going. Any other time, I would have quit and said I’m not running again this season.

“I had to find meets in Europe at the last minute. I remember sitting with my dad at the Euro Tunnel thinking what the hell am I doing here?

“But this is the Olympics, I had to keep on going and keep trying, I didn’t want regrets. Luckily I hit the qualifying mark in Belgium.”

Rodger’s focus now is to perform well on the biggest stage of all in Brazil. He reached the semi-final of the Moscow World Championships in 2013 and competed at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 while his personal best is 49.19 which he achieved in 2013. Félix Sánchez, who has since retired, is the reigning 400m hurdles Olympic champ having won in London 2012 in a time of 47.63. American Johnny Dutch is the fastest this year as he clocked a time of 48.10 in June.

Rodger added, “I am only looking forward now. I have a chance to compete at the Olympic Games and I will be giving it everything. I just can’t wait to get in that environment.

“I like the big stage and I really think the Olympics will bring out the best in me. If you look at the times, no one is way out in front. If I get into a rhythm and hit my times I can reach the final and then we can see what happens from there.”

Rodger’s inclusion takes the number of Olympians competing at Rio from Eastbourne and Hailsham to four.

Rodger will join Hailsham eventer Gemma Tattersall, Eastbourne badminton player Heather Olver and Eastbourne’s tennis ace Johanna Konta.

Tattersall, 31, had her place confirmed in the Team GB Equestrian Eventing team last week and will partner the Pebbles Syndicate’s Quicklook V at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The Hailsham rider was a member of East Sussex Pony Club, Hailsham Riding Club and went to Moira House School. She is aiming to go one better than the silver gained by the eventing team in London 2012.

She said, “It was a mixture of relief, excitement and scared. It is a real honour to represent your country and I’m delighted to be selected.”

The Olympic Games start on August 5.