Lee Emanuel believes he ‘can run with anybody in the world’ as he prepares to make his Great Britain debut.
The St Leonards athlete will contest the men’s 1,500m at the IAAF World Indoor Championships 2014 in the Polish city of Sopot this weekend.
Emanuel said: “I can’t wait to get out to Poland and race, and I think I’m in my peak condition to compete. I’m in the best shape of my life at the moment so I believe I can run with anybody in the world. It’s exciting to have that belief, and hopefully I can go out and prove it this weekend.”
The 29-year-old says his main objective is to reach the final at 7pm tomorrow (Saturday), which will mean successfully negotiating the heats at around 11.25am today.
“My intention is to reach the final,” he continued. “I don’t think I can really look past the semi at the moment, but I expect myself to make the final. Once I make the final I will be a lot more relaxed.”
Emanuel is relishing the prospect of pulling on a British vest for the first time, something which looked a long way off as he struggled for form as recently as 2012.
“It’s going to be great,” he went on. “To wear the GB vest and know all the athletics fans back in Britain are going to be watching and cheering me on is very exciting and motivating for me. Hopefully I can do really well this weekend and get a few people talking about me.
“It feels like it’s been a long time coming. When I graduated in 2010, I thought I would be in the British team for the next five or six years, but it didn’t happen.
“There were definitely times when I was convinced it wasn’t going to happen, especially in 2012. I had a complete disaster in the Olympic Trials at the end of a horrible four months of racing.
“I’d never really dealt with failure before and it took a lot of mental strength to come back from that. Even when I came back last year I was running fast, but couldn’t finish fast. There were always questions in my mind - am I ever going to be able to do well in championships? But now I don’t believe I’m going to fail.”
Emanuel, who has jokingly described himself as the best athlete never to be picked for Great Britain over the last five years, will be cheered on in Poland by his parents and aunt.
Whatever happens it’s been a splendid indoor season for Emanuel. He won the British Indoor Championships in Sheffield four weeks ago having clocked the fastest time in the world for the mile this indoor season in New York at the end of January.
As soon as the event is over, Emanuel will fly back out to New Mexico for three months of training in preparation for the outdoor season during the summer.