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Winning indoor debut as Olivier plots for Poland

By Mark Etheridge

He may have been somewhat disorientated in his world-class indoor 800-metre event at the weekend, but one thing’s for sure ÔÇô Andr├® Olivier is directly on course for a good showing at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Poland next month.

Olivier, pictured right, was racing in the English city of Birmingham, and making his superb time of 1min 44.99sec all the more impressive was that it was his debut on the extremely tight and testing indoor scenario.

His time was good for second spot behind arch-rival Mohamed Aman of Ethiopia, who won in 1:44.52, the third best on the all-time list and the quickest time in the event for more than 10 years.

Not only was Olivier’s time, 16th on the all-time list, well inside the World Championships qualifying time of 1:47.00 it was just 0.08sec outside Olympian Mbulaeni Mulaudzi’s national indoor mark.

But records weren’t foremost in the 24-year-old’s mind as he lined up at the British Athletics Grand Prix event.

“I only had one goal going to Birmingham and that was to qualify for World Indoors,” he told Road to Rio 2016. “The training was going well, my body was responding to the intense training and all all just great before my race.

“What was funny though was that during the race I didn’t even know if I was in the home straight or in the back straight because I was just following the pace and concentrating on my breathing and posture,” he laughed.

“When I heard the bell I thought to myself, ‘OK, 200 to go, we’ve got this, because I saw the clock was on 1:18 and I knew I was feeling strong.”

It was only after the race that Olivier started thinking of what could have beenÔǪ “I saw the 1:44.99 and thought, wow, that was close to Mulaudzi’s record!”

But for now, any record-breaking thoughts can be put on hold as he continues preparations for Poland.

“I knew I could run fast, especially outdoor and I told coach Jean Verster that I’ll be able to run 1:44 outdoors now by myself. He reckons I’ll run 1:44 indoor now with Aman and the rest of the guys.”

Potchefstroom is preferred to Poland right now because that’s where he’ll be going back to the drawing board. “I’ll put in three weeks of hard training and concentrate on worlds and getting my mind right for big things in Sopot.”

Olivier reached the semi-finals of the men’s 800m at the 2012 Olympic Games in London and is also a former bronze medallist at the IAAF World Indoor Championships.