WORLD indoor glory has been targeted by one-lap ace Richard Buck after he was drafted in to star for Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The 27-year-old City of York Athletic Club 400 metres specialist is one of a 35-strong squad that will compete at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot, Poland, next month.
Buck, whose stellar career has already brought a haul of seven major championship medals, has been picked for the individual 400m and the 4x400m relay squad.
He sealed his spots with a season’s best run of 46.09 seconds in the ‘B’ final at the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham last weekend – and declared his delight at being able to once again put on the GB vest.
“I absolutely love it,” he said. “I want to take every opportunity I can. It’s great to go and compete at this level. It is something that I love doing.
“I am proud to step out onto the track in the GB vest anytime I can.
“It went really well in Birmingham. I had committed to hitting the front no matter what. If nothing else, it would tell me what my fitness was. I had a really good race shape and hopefully that will continue in the worlds.”
Buck joins Nigel Levine as Britain’s representatives in the individual event and a place in the final is his target.
In the relay, however, where he makes up the squad with Levine, Daniel Awde, Michael Bingham, Jamie Bowie, Luke Lennon-Ford and Conrad Williams, there are much loftier aims.
The relay squad picked up a bronze medal in Doha four years ago and won silver in Istanbul in 2012.
Buck added: “My aim for the individual event is to reach the final. That will be a step up from previous championships where I have made the semi-finals three times.
“I have been getting closer every time and to get to the final would be a great achievement.
“When you step up you want to finish as high as possible. I would love to challenge for a medal. My times aren’t out of touch with everyone.
“The relay team has been growing in strength over the past couple of years. We were so close to taking gold at the last world championship and we are the reigning European champions.
“We are going to look for the gold and, while it would be great to come away with a medal, there is a lot of expectation among ourselves.”
Buck had initially wavered about running in both events at the worlds – concerned about the effect a possible four runs in three days will have on his body ahead of an outdoor season where the Commonwealth Games is the main priority.
The former Pickering Lady Lumley’s School pupil explained: “It was quite a tough decision. I think the truth is that my race form seems to be getting better as I go along through the season.
“I feel I can hit the worlds running and in some really good form.”
One of GB’s strongest medal hopes was missing when British Athletics named their team for the championships.
Sprinter James Dasaolu is ranked number one in the world in the 60 metres this year after posting a personal best of 6.47 seconds in the semi-finals in Birmingham on Saturday.
He won the final, too, but crossed the line clutching his left hamstring and a scan has shown a minor tear, which rules him out of the championships in Sopot.
Dasaolu said: “I am disappointed but this is going to be a big year and I don’t want to take any risk.”
British Athletics performance director Neil Black said: “This is a relatively young team with a number of new faces taking individual places, which is encouraging as we focus on long-term development towards 2016 and 2017.
“Where there were any close decisions, we have prioritised the Sainsbury’s British Athletics Championships results, and it is good to see athletes and their coaches who have made significant breakthroughs in the last year are maintaining those results.”