By Alastair Aitken

Martyn Rooney

It was not before August 2014; in Zurich, that Martyn Rooney won his first major Championship title.  It was in the European outdoor Championships.  The first three in the race were Martyn Rooney (GB) 44.71; 2 Mathew Hudson Smith (GB) 44.75; 3 Donald Sanford (Israel) 45.27.

About athletics, Martyn Rooney made a heartfelt remark to me about competing in the sport – “I love what I do.  I love competing.  I am very fortunate that my parents are a massive support and I would not be doing it without their support””

Martyn Rooney was born 3rd of April 1987 in Surrey and has been a devoted Croydon Harrier since he was very young and, as one might imagine a Crystal Palace football supporter!

His memory goes right back to his beginning in the sport “I started with doing a cross-country race at Primary School but I never took athletics seriously till I was 16 or 17”’

‘I was always doing it alongside other sports like rugby.  I played rugby at John Fisher School though I found I was too skinny to play rugby.  My athletics was going well so, I said I‘d focus on that.  I met my coach Mike Fleet when I was between 10 & 11 at Croydon.  On Power of 10 in 2014, it states his lead coach is now Rana Reider. 

As a matter of interest, Mike Fleet was a half miler or in to-days terms, an 800m runner, up with the best UK runners in the 60’s like international, Chris Carter.  They both ran 1:48.7 winning 800m races in 1963.

Martyn comes in ‘Mike was competing at high level.  I was initially an 800/1500m runner (Under 15’s).  Martyn’s best time as an Under 20 runner was 1:50.55 for 800 in 2005.  He went to Loughborough University but still ran for Croydon.

As a teenager, he said, “I was in a very fortunate situation as I was training with a lot older athletes who were 4 or 5 years older than me.’  He also remarked ‘Mike Fleet, having been an international knew what he was talking about’

Martyn Rooney’s turning point to do the 400m, as his main event:

“I did a couple of 400’s for the club, just to fill in for league matches.  I was 17 at the Surrey Championships, I won the 800m, and in the 400m, I ran 47.6, which at the time was faster than the time the English Schools was won in, so we decided to focus on that.  I had a couple of 800’s and a 1500m that year but mainly stuck with the 400 that season (2005).  In July of that year, he did 22.2 for a 200m winning at Newham.  It was also in 2005 he won the AAA’s Under 20 gold at Bedford.

In 2006, he obtained a bronze medal in the World Junior Championships in Beijing in 45.7.                                                                                               


To be competing at the highest level as a one-lap runner, one has to be able to run inside 45.00 for 400m.  Rooney did that in the Beijing Olympics of 2008 when he was second to Olympic Champion, La Shawn Merritt of the United States in the Semi–Final with a time of 44.60.  Merritt doing 44.12.  ‘It was amazing.  I loved that semi-final race in the Olympics but in the Final, I did not put a race together at all (45.12 in 6th).  However, he ran well in the relay when the UK came 4th 2:58.81 (Andrew Steele, Robert Tobin, Michael Bingham and Martyn Rooney -43.73)

In 2009, as a 21 year old, I was gradually coming back from injury and ran 45.63 in the Grand Prix at Gateshead in July of 2009.’

It was 2009 when he obtained a silver medal for the 4x400m relay in the World Championships in Berlin.  Characteristically he fought very hard on the anchor leg for the UK team.  The GB team did 3:00.53 behind the USA who ran 2:57.86 and Australia was third in 3:00.90. In 2008 at Crystal Place in the Grand Prix, he won in 44.83 from Tyler Christopher (45.29) and 2008 Olympic bronze medallist David Neville ‘It was a fairly solid field.  Tyler Christopher was World Indoor Champion, David Neville third in the Olympics and David Gillick the Irish runner was in the field.  I needed to be in a field like that.  That was the first time I raced against people who wanted to run 44’s.  There was a massive difference with the level of competition and how they put their race together and it set me up perfectly.’

It was at the end of 2009, in the Grand Prix in Gateshead, on the 31st of August, when the Olympic Champion La Shawn Merritt did 45.10.  Rooney was 2nd in 45.47, and double Olympic 400 hurdles Champion, Angelo Taylor, did 45.50, Michael Bingham 45.54, Rob Tobin 45.61 and World 400 hurdles Champion Kerron Clement 45.77. 

He achieved a European bronze in Barcelona in 2010.  (1 Kevin Borlee (Belgium) 45.08; 2 Michael Bingam (GB) 45.2, 3 Martyn Rooney 45.23.)

In 2012 in the Olympics in London, Martyn Rooney, was 5th in the Semi-Final of the 400m.

In 2013, he was part of the GB team that came 4th in the World Championships.

In 2014, He won a 400 in June in the NTC/Pure Athletics Spring Invitational USA) in April time with a time of 45.75 and won the European Trials and British Athletics Championship Final in 45.78 on the 14th of June.

HIS FIRST BIG INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS WIN was in the European Championships in Zurich in August when he won the 400 Final in 44.71.

After winning the 400 Final, he obtained his 2nd Gold medal in Zurich, by running the anchor leg for GB and overtook the Russian athlete to bring the team home in an individual time of 43.93.  The others in the quartet were Conrad Williams, Hudson Smith and Bingham.  The times of the teams who obtained medals were GB 2:58.79; Russia 2:59.38 and Poland 2:59.84- (Who overtook France coming up the final straight for the bronze medals).


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Posted Date: 22nd Aug 2014