Defending European 200m champion Hortelano almost ready to return

Hortelano makes history for Spain
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Spain's Bruno Hortelano celebrates when crossing the finish of the 200m at the Amsterdam 2016 European Athletics Championships.

Spain’s reigning European 200m champion Bruno Hortelano has had to postpone his comeback after an ill-timed bout of ‘flu – he was scheduled to return to action for the first time since the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Madrid next month – but he is still determined to defend his title in Berlin this summer after missing the whole of 2017 following a car accident in September 2016 which left him with severe hand injuries.

Now training in at the Sant Cugat High Performance Training Centre near Barcelona, the Spanish 200m record holder was interviewed by the Spanish sports daily Marca and he described his recent progress on the road to the German capital.

“We (Hortelano and his coach Adrian Durant) are focused on recovering my strength and speed but we do not know yet flu when I will be able to compete. There is simply no date for my return because I want to return to compete when I am 110 per cent and the flu did not allow it (he spent almost a week in bed just after the start of the year). 

“It's a shame because I was very good shape. In fact, at the end of November I did a 300m test indoors and I improved my best mark (he ran 33.2). It was also the first time I ran with spikes since Rio.

“I have never doubted about my ability to return to the highest level again. Shortly, after the accident the doctor said it would be about a year-and-a-half and so it has been. I’m a little nervous about competing again, but I really want to, and I dream about it. That's why I'm really angry at not being able to run in Madrid indoor meeting (the IAAF World Indoor Tour meeting in the Spanish capital on 8 February).

An indication of Hortelano’s superstar potential was that in Amsterdam he beat Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev into second place in the longer sprint and the latter then went on to win the world title in the same event last summer in London.

The pair could potentially go head-to-head in what would be a fascinating duel for supremacy at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships, part of the first multi-sport European Championships.

“I watched that race (in London) on TV in the family house with my mother, my brother and my grandmother. I would have loved to have been in London because I think I could have done a good job there.

“I would have been able to apply the things I learnt in Rio. After running the Spanish record of 20.12 in the heats, a race like that always hits your body and you need time to recover. The night after that race, in the Olympic Village, I had a lot of muscle soreness, and that was at the back of my mind in the semi-finals. (Hortelano ran 20.16 for fourth place in his semi and missed out on a place in the final by 0.07).

“When you run a personal best, you take your body to the limit. Take, for example, Usain Bolt; he never ran a record in his heats or semis and was always fresh for the final. But I learnt a lot for upcoming championships.”

The accident was a hugely painful and frustrating experience for Hortelano, coming as it did after a summer of success which also included improving the Spanish 100m record in two increments to 10.06.

However, after being quickly assured by the fact that he could make a return to the very highest level of sprinting, Hortelano spent the time recovering before he could return to training.

Already in possession of a degree in medicine from the prestigious US institution Cornell University, the now 26-year-old polymath improved his guitar playing skills and set about learning the Python computer programming language.

“However, the one thing that the accident changed was the way I write,” added Hortelano in the interview, although his training times suggest that nothing else has changed for the worse in the long-term and that he should reappear soon, maybe even before the end of the indoor season. 

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More information on the 2018 European Championships:  

- The Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships will be part of the first multi-sport European Championships along with co-hosts Glasgow.    

- It will be a must-watch, must-attend experience that elevates the status of European Champions, uniting existing European Championships to celebrate the highest honour in European sport and celebrating the defining moments that create Champions.   

- It is the continent’s ultimate multi-sport event, an 11-day celebration of European sport staged every four years.  

- Seven of Europe’s leading sports (athletics, aquatics, rowing, golf, cycling, gymnastics, triathlon) will be brought together for the first edition.  

- The European Athletics Championships in Berlin will be staged 7-12 August. The six other sports will be staged in Glasgow through 2-12 August. 

- 4500 athletes and 52 nations will compete across the seven sports.  

- Potential TV audience of over one billion with millions more across multiple digital platforms.  

- Over half a million spectators expected.