Leighton Levy, Gleaner Writer
World and Olympic gold medallist, Michael Frater, is cautiously optimistic that he will be running the 200 metres at the UTech Classic this Saturday at the National Stadium.
Having suffered through a number of injuries over the past few years, including a ruptured knee ligament last season, the 28-year-old Frater is playing it safe this season. He says this is the healthiest he has been in a long while, but he suffered a cramp in training recently and how well he recovers will determine whether or not he competes this weekend.
The cautious approach is a new one for the 2005 World Championship 100-metre silver medallist, who says, now that he is in his prime, he is making every effort to do what is right for him.
"I've been listening to my body more than ever before. As soon as I have felt an injury, I have tended to back off training, but I am stronger this year than I have ever been in the gym," he said.
"On the track, I have been doing the core of the background work, so up to this point I think I am in better shape than I have ever been, so it's just for me to maintain and just be healthy, and I know I will do very well this year," he predicted.
This is a departure from what he would normally do; allow his zest for competition overwhelm his need for caution, which has not served him well in the past.
"Over the years, I have been a stubborn sprinter. I've always felt little nicks but allowed them to get worse, but I think I have grown. Whenever I have felt pain, with talking to the coach (we've come to the decision) that it's better to miss a day or two of training than to end up missing four to six weeks," he explained. "I think I have grown and been a lot more mature in my training this year, and it has helped me establish a solid background this year."
With this being a World Championship year, there is need for even greater caution. So, with Frater still suffering from the leg cramp he experienced in training, he is content with taking the wait-and-see approach to this weekend's meet.
"I am not 100 per cent sure I will be at the UTech Classic. If I am 100 per cent, I will run, but if I am not I don't think I am going to take the chance. This is a very important year and I am not going to be afraid of pulling out of certain meets if I am not healthy," he declared.
"Last year, I think I forced the issue somewhat, running while I was injured, and it only made the injury worse and I have come to understand that if you are running with pain you will never be able to compete 100 per cent, no matter what anybody says," he reasoned. "Because when you are feeling pain your body is telling you that there is something wrong."
If he doesn't compete this weekend, Frater reveals that he could compete at the Penn Relays at month-end, and his first individual event could be the Jamaica International Invitational in early May.