Guernsey Press

‘More to come’ from Guernsey star, says Ala Chalmers’ coach

Alastair Chalmers, the soon-to-be Olympian, has been backed by his coach to challenge the British 400m hurdles record as early as next year.

Alastair Chalmers, right, with his coach Matt Elias after booking his Paris 2024 place in Manchester on Sunday. (Picture supplied by Matt Elias)

Matt Elias, who competed at Athens 2004, observed in its full absurdity his charge’s UK Championships final where an initial disqualification for false-starting ended with him booking his tickets to Paris 2024.

Although Elias has long believed that Chalmers can break Kriss Akabusi’s British record of 47.82sec., his 48.54 under challenging circumstances in Manchester seems to have given both a new level of conviction.

‘I said to him from the first year that I started coaching him that I think he could break the British record,’ he said on the latest Guernsey Press Sport Podcast.

  • Listen to the full interview with Ala Chalmers’ coach Matt Elias on this week’s Guernsey Press Sport Podcast

‘And I think he was always a little bit hesitant, because he has big aspirations but he’s also a realist and he doesn’t want to get too far ahead of his station.

‘I think now after that performance this weekend he’s really starting to believe that himself as well that he can go on and break the British record and run 47sec. for the 400m hurdles, which, the way the event has gone globally now with Karsten Warholm and Rai Benjamin, Alison Dos Santos, that’s where you need to be realistically.’

The 45-year-old Elias had described the UK final and its aftermath as ‘one of the craziest two hours of my life’.

The race carried extra drama from his viewing point near hurdle eight, where he thought Chalmers had not quite reached the finish when he dived. Then there was the incredibly nervy wait for an appeal result.

‘Alastair was up and down every 10 minutes, sort of elated and then devastated and apologetic and all sorts,’ he added.

‘And we were kind of looking through every avenue of how we can get the result to stand. So the emotions were all over the place.’

Backing the sentiment of Guernsey Athletics development officer Tom Druce, he thanked Birchfield’s Efekemo Okoro for supporting the appeal.

Okoro had reacted to the same crowd noise and initially believed he was the false-starter.

Chalmers has been taking some well-deserved easy days since that physically and emotionally draining afternoon, but the London Diamond League on 20 July will provide a welcome focus.

It is then straight into the holding camp before the big one.

Elias described Chalmers’ qualification for the Olympics, which open on 26 July, as ‘absolutely massive’.

‘Every athlete’s dream as they’re growing up is the Olympic Games.

‘To be honest, yes, you might have sort of background dreams of maybe winning an Olympic medal, but every kid athlete dreams of going to an Olympic Games.

‘So this is enormous for him. And everything we’ve done in the last two years has been targeting this.’