Dale Garland is determined to make the most of the surprise chance he has been handed to salvage his season after being selected in Great Britain’s Olympic relay squad.
The Birchfield Harrier had started his 2008 campaign looking to build on the fact he reached the World Championships in Osaka last summer by running under 49.20 seconds in the 400 metres hurdles and thereby breaking his personal best and qualifying for Beijing without the need for the selectors’ generosity.
Garland attained the B Standard for Osaka and was something of a captain’s pick when he was given the opportunity to compete on the highest stage and so this year he wanted to make sure he made it to an even higher stage on his own merit.
Until Saturday it looked as though the hamstring troubles that have blighted his campaign and which ten days ago kept him out of the trials, seemed to have frustrated that ambition but almost out of the blue the 26-year-old was called up as the sixth option in the six-man 4x400m relay team.
“After my last race in Loughborough last Thursday I was so depressed,” Garland said. “I found it very difficult to come to terms with the fact I was not going to go to Beijing. It was a very, very depressing day.
“All I was thinking about doing was getting my things and heading off home to Guernsey.”
But then less than 48 hours later Garland learned he had been added to the relay squad, not on account of his race at Loughborough - which was positively pedestrian at 47.52secs, but because he had been part of the team that did well in winning the European Cup in Annecy last month.
During that race Garland ran leg two and was part of the quartet that finished second as the team won the competition for the fifth time in their history.
Little did he know at the time, indeed he still harboured hopes of making it in his individual event, but it was a run that earned him a first trip to the Olympics.
“Within a couple of days it was a complete reversal of emotions,” he said. “Looking at people’s times this year they probably have their strike four runners - Martyn Rooney, Andrew Steele, Michael Bingham and Rob Tobin, but who knows what might happen when we’re out there?
“There’s a race in China about a week before the Olympics and I’ll do that to get myself in shape. At least I’ll be able to salvage something positive out of a season that has been a bit of a nightmare.”