There’s a headline to get the Twitterati all a-Tweeting, but Wayne Rooney isn’t about to seek a transfer from Old Trafford to the Camp Nou.
Rather, Martyn Rooney, Croydon’s national 400 metres champion, has declared that next month’s European championships in Barcelona will be his one major international competition of the year, and that he will not seek to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal in New Delhi in the autumn.
Rooney, 23, the fastest 400m man in Europe so far this summer, is increasingly looking like a real medal contender for the 2012 London Olympics.
The former John Fisher School pupil from Thornton Heath, who won a 4x400m relay silver medal after running a storming anchor stage for Britain at the Berlin world championships last year, will be in action this Saturday at the Aviva British Grand Prix at Gateshead.
In a new regular blog, Rooney says that Delhi comes too late in the year for his competitive programme:
“The Commonwealth Games are at an awkward time of year. It’s a good title to have and it’s a big competition, but I’d rather have a solid winter. I want to go into 2011 with maximum confidence. A lot of athletes are missing it and I think that just goes to show.”
Rooney is right that it is an argument that several elite-funded English athletes, including world champion heptathlete Jessica Ennis, have offered for not travelling to Delhi.
But it might smack of a decision imposed from above, where UK Athletics head coach, Dutchman Charles van Commenee, has perhaps less of a feeling for the importance of the Commonwealth Games.
It is a decision which Rooney may come to regret in the future, and will certainly be a blow to the Games organisers in India, as well as the England 4x400m relay team that might otherwise have fancied beating Australia and Jamaica.
Four years ago in Melbourne, Rooney gained invaluable senior international experience at the Commonwealth Games, where he placed fifth in the final with 45.51 seconds, breaking Roger Black’s 20-year-old British junior record.
Back in 1986, the teenaged Black managed to compete, and win, at both the Commonwealth Games and the European championships.
And other top British 400m runners of the recent past, including Duaine Ladejo, Iwan Thomas and Jamie Baulch, have all managed to extend their seasons through the European summer and take in both major events, enjoying the experience of the Commonwealth Games.
“Things have been going alright for me recently,” Rooney says. “I’ve had a busy month or so with lots going on but I’ve enjoyed it and I’m happy with how everything is going.
“I’ve been running well recently but there are still some little things to work on and I’m excited about what’s coming up.
“If I get the next two races sorted I’ll be set up well for the Europeans… Every race I go into, I go into win and the Euros are no different. I know I can run 44 seconds and beat people.”
If all goes to plan, at least one Englishman named Rooney might manage to beat the Germans, Dutch, Italians and French in an international competition this summer.