Richard Kilty was a shock 66-1 winner of the world indoor 60m title. With the British Championships only a few days away, he tells SPIKES how he went from underdog to title challenger.
Around the turn of the year the British sprinter, who had spent a prolonged period of time coaching himself, joined Rana Reider's crack Loughborough-based training group. It gave him access to leading biomechanist Paul Brice and also the pearls of Reider's technical wisdom.
The combination quickly spotted flaws in his technique. “I was running with too short a stride and flicking my heels towards my bum,” Kilty explains. “Rana works closely on front-side mechanics and taught me to run by putting more force through the ground.
“Now, as soon as my foot hits the ground, the heel and the thigh come straight out in front of the body again. This allows me to maximise my stride length without losing my really quick leg turnover.”
“I found changing my technique hard for the first couple of weeks. I was confused. But Rana is a man who has coached so many great athletes, I had to put my faith in him. I felt a couple of days before the World Indoor Championships it really started to click.”
No more junk food
Living off largely junk food, it was only after seeing the more advanced diets of some of the other members of his traning group (the likes of world medallists Christian Taylor and Tiffany Porter), that the penny dropped. His nutritional intake needed a radical overhaul.
“I ate a lot of sugars, sweets, and cakes,” admits Kilty. “I thought 'oh well I've got a six-pack I don't need to eat well'. I was eating a bag of Haribos, two or three chocolate bars, a KFC and three fizzy drinks a day. I was only getting one decent cooked meal a day.
“I wasn't thinking about my recovery. The sugars and high-carbs increase inflammation. So I gradually cut out the sugars, started to eat more meat and vegetables and kept my carbs down to a minimum.”
Consequently, Kilty's weight plummeted to 80kg, having lost six kilograms.
The training group around Reider won bronze for GB at the World Relays
Less (lifting) is more
It seems illogical, but Kilty believes a freak training accident, in which he sliced a tendon in his wrist and limited his weight training programme, may have have been “a blessing in disguise”.
The Briton was out on a training run when he tripped over a lose paving slab and fell on gravel causing the nasty damage. The incident put an end to upper body work for much of the winter.
“I might well have been too heavy [before the accident],” he explains. “I could leg squat but I lost a bit of upper body strength. But I think that helped because it helped balance my weight out at 80-81kg and improved my power to weight ratio.”
Kilty qualified for the world indoor final joint second quickest in 6.52
A psychic coach
His coach Rana Reider managed to instil in Kilty the belief he could be a champion. During a warm weather training stint in South Africa, Reider told him he was in 6.53 shape for the 60m (his previous best was 6.61). At the British Championships Kilty ran a new lifetime best of 6.53 for third.
“I thought 'is Rana psychic?' It was a really good time. A world-class time, and it filled me with confidence.”
At the world indoor championships he won his heat in 6.53. His confidence started to soar, then after qualifying for the final joint second quickest, he targeted a medal. After a conversation with Reider and Brice, he was to raise his expectation level even higher.
“They said to me for the last 30m of the race I was running quicker than everyone else in the field. They had the data to prove it. They said all I needed to do was be a one or two hundredths quicker by 30m and I was going to win.
“That gave me so much confidence. During warm up I knew what I needed to do. Nothing else mattered apart from executing that race.”
Kilty then delivered in the final trimming 0.03 from his lifetime best to run 6.49 and beat American Marvin Bracy by a fine margin of 0.02, to his gold.
“That was the best moment of my life,” he said. “I was world champion.”