It may be the off season in athletics, but there is one sport well and truly alive and kicking for World 110 metre hurdle champion David Oliver.
Perhaps surprisingly for an American, Oliver is a massive football or as he would call it, soccer fan.
His team is Arsenal and so quite rightly he is ecstatic at their current run of form, however after baron few years, Oliver admits it hasn ‘t always been so good: “I remember a bad time we had in the cup last year when the crowd were really angry and now a couple months later everybody ‘s got the in Wenger we trust signs up.”
Unbeaten since the first game of the season, sitting top of the Premier League and their Champions League group, it would appear that everything is rosy for the gunners as they look to claim their first trophy since 2005. Yet to Oliver things can still get better: “We ‘re still not 100% complete with injuries we ‘ve got, Sagna is out for a while and Podolski ‘s still out. I think in a few weeks we ‘ll be even better.”
So why Arsenal you may ask? Well… when Oliver started competing on the European tour nearly 10 years ago, he began to realise quite how big the sport he called soccer, was to people across the Atlantic ocean: “ From 2006 I started travelling over Europe, everyone was kind of crazy about soccer over here so I thought I ‘ll just check it out.”
Luckily him the first game he chose to watch was a gripping one : “It just happened to be the Champions League final against Barcelona and they (Arsenal) had Henry and he was a black dude, so I thought black dude playing soccer I ‘ll follow them.”
Whilst the result didn ‘t go Arsenal ‘s way and Henry eventually joined the victors which lead to Oliver following Barca ‘s results, his focus rested with the losers from that day. Due in part because of the negative result : “Arsenal ‘s cool because they never really win, so it ‘s cool to cheer for them. Everybody that ‘s a foreigner only likes Chelsea or Man United because they always win but I don ‘t like jumping on that bandwagon.”
Since then Oliver ‘s obsession has been ever present and with his Satellite box he makes sure he never misses a game even if it means getting up early: “It ‘s cool that I can watch all the games on tv at home and so that ‘s what I do all Saturday morning.”
As for the other soccer fans from within the American track and field team, Oliver gives me one name in particular: “Ryan Wilson ‘s a big Liverpool fan! We talk about the matches, Liverpool have had a very successful start to their season as well, they ‘re one of the best teams out there so it ‘s cool to see them going well.
They have one of the best home grounds in all of European football, I was able to go there for a match in 2010 and it was one of the greatest atmospheres that I ‘ve ever been to.”
Back on the subject of athletics, Oliver said that he feels capable of improving on his results of 2013 but admitted that his victory in Moscow will make things a bit more difficult: “It ‘s just about maintaining what I ‘ve been doing, when I ‘m healthy and out there performing, I know I ‘m one of the best that has ever competed in the hurdles… “It ‘s just about going back and following the same protocol, just continuing to improve. Me winning is going to make it a whole lot more difficult.”
As for his preparation for the 2014 outdoor season, Oliver, who is now entering his 10th year on the European circuit, is unsure whether we will be seeing him at next years World indoor Championships in Sopot: “For me, it ‘s just going to depend on how training ‘s going, how fast I get back into things and how I feel in fall. “I ‘ll probably go to an indoor meet to see how I feel before going to the US indoors to try to qualify for the World indoors.”