Chignell raring to go

Oli Chignell. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Oli Chignell. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Oli Chignell is back on the track and confident of a record-breaking summer.

It had been 15 months since the 22-year-old last ran a track race when he lined up on the start line in Christchurch last week.

An 8min 11.69sec 3000m followed, Chignell comfortably claiming victory in a field which included Nick Moulai, Christopher Dryden and Caden Shields.

It was also his second-fastest time over the distance, the fastest being a rapid 8min 03.64sec run in Belgium in August last year.

That it was also the last time he ran.

Chignell got a stress fracture in his sacrum bone a year ago.

After he recovered from that, Covid-19 hit.

He made a return at the national cross country challenge in Dunedin in August, although his fitness has improved markedly since then.

Looking ahead to the summer, he has high hopes with a now recovered body.

The Otago senior records are in his sights and he is confident of breaking both the 5000m and 10,000m marks before Christmas.

"They’re all going this year," he said.

"The 10km’s going this week and hopefully I’ll get the 5km before the new year, finish 2020 with a bit of a bang.

"That 1500m is going to be a bit trickier, but I still think later on in the season I’ll be able to have a relatively decent crack at getting close to that."

At present Blair Martin holds the 5000m record at 13min 40.66sec, six seconds faster than Chignell’s personal best.

David Rush holds the 10,000m mark of 28min 40.66sec, a distance Chignell has yet to run on the track.

However, Chignell has an idea of where he is at and hopes to take 20-30 seconds off both marks.

Stuart Melville’s 1975 time of 3min 40.03sec — nine seconds faster than Chignell’s best — may take some more beating, particularly as he transitions into longer races.

Chignell said many of the top New Zealand runners who would normally be overseas are staying in the country this year due to Covid-19.

That meant there would likely be fast races all summer, and Athletics New Zealand was paying pace makers to help push them faster.

He said there was a good chance multiple national records could fall.

Whether he is seen at the Caledonian Ground is uncertain, although he was hopeful a meeting might be held in Dunedin that would attract some fast runners this summer.

The Tokyo Olympics, now scheduled for next year, remain his goal.

He felt automatic qualification was out of reach, but hoped to put together a number of fast races to accumulate the points to qualify.

Chignell will run a 10,000m in Wellington on Saturday, while he will race the 5000m at the Night of Fives meeting in Auckland on December 18.

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