Guernsey Press

Big year ahead as Ala targets the ‘majors’

Alastair Chalmers believes that his busy 2023 season has set him up well for a shot at Olympic qualification next year.

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Ala Chalmers in the 400m hurdles at the last Track & Field Series meet of the season at Footes Lane on Sunday. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 32489268)

Guernsey’s 400m hurdles ace has been coping with the aftershock of his heavy hamstring tear in March, which combined with weather woes during key races to prevent him from challenging his personal best of 48.88sec.

But he has instead excelled as a tourist by winning international meets in Switzerland, Finland, Belgium and Germany, beating several favourably-ranked athletes in the process.

The attainment of a fourth straight British title and home Island Games gold – just two days apart – gives him even more to smile about.

‘I was pretty much six weeks out in a pretty important time of the year just before the season, so that’s why I haven’t been hitting PBs or where I was last year,’ he said of his untimely Grade 3C hamstring tear.

‘But you know what? I’ve made the most of the season.

‘I’ve travelled around the world, I’ve run and won some really big races in Europe and I won British Champs, which I’m chuffed about – I was a bit of an underdog for that because I was coming in pretty much fourth-ranked – and it’s just getting that stimulus through the body.

‘Racing is really important, because sometimes when you get injured you just feel like “I’ll just take the season off” or pull it down a bit.

‘Just to keep travelling and put myself in that environment of racing is going to be really beneficial for next year, so overall really happy with the season.’

  • Ala Chalmers was back at Footes Lane for the first time since winning Island Games gold in July

That is not to say there were no frustrations time-wise, with cold or windy conditions often working against him and meaning he finished with a season’s best of 49.49 from Manchester.

‘It’s been a frustrating kind of racing season,’ he added.

‘I mean, for my season’s best to be at British Champs on a pretty average track in average conditions shows a lot.’

The World Indoor Championships at the start of March are the first major international event of the 2024 calendar.

They do not include the 400m hurdles, though, which leaves Chalmers conflicted.

‘I kind of got fire in my belly to do that, but I just need to be running very well early on to qualify for the Europeans.

‘I’d love to see what my coach says and if we feel like training is going well and it’s a good opportunity to get a bit of speed in and have a bit of racing, then why not?’

His main efforts will be directed towards the double-bill of ‘majors’ in the summer – the European Championships in Italy and then the Paris 2024 Olympics.

‘Hopefully I’ll go out to America in March, April, race out there, get that standard and then that’ll put me in good stead for the Europeans and hopefully the Olympics.

‘I just need to take it as it comes really, but yeah it’s a big year.’