Chariots of Fire" runner targets 2012 Olympics

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LONDON, Oct 28 (Reuters) A 19-year-old Cambridge student who has set a new record for the race immortalised in the film ''Chariots of Fire'' -- Trinity College's Great Court run - is aiming for a place in Britain's London 2012 Olympics team.

''Every runner has 2012 in the back of their minds,'' Sam Dobin told Reuters today. ''Winning the Great Court run has brought 2012 very much to the forefront of my mind.

''I'm convinced I can do it and last week's success has given me so much motivation. London is where I want to be -- there is no plan B.'' Second-year economics undergraduate Dobin finished the Great Court run in 42.77 seconds last week, inside the previous record of 43.1 seconds set by Olympic athlete Lord Burghley 80 years ago.

The race requires participants to run round the 367-metre perimeter of the Great Court's narrow flagstone path before all 24 chimes of the Cambridge college's clock have rung at Midday.

In the film, the fictional Lord Lindsey, a character based on Burghley, sportingly finishes a few steps behind Harold Abrahams, who in real life won the 100m in the 1924 Paris Olympics, but did not run the Trinity race.

Double Olympic champion Sebastian Coe ran the race in 42.53 seconds in 1988 but failed to beat the chimes as the clock had been wound up the day before and had chimed more quickly than usual.

That meant Coe's time was rejected, but the chairman of London Organising Committee for the 2012 Olympics has praised Dobin for his ''fantastic and very rare achievement''.

If Dobin's Great Court win has fuelled his Olympic ambitions, Coe's own success as an athlete provides an added incentive for the Cambridge student, who believes his best distance is 800 metres.

''You read in the newspapers that Britain's runners at 800m have no chance against African athletes,'' said Dobin. ''But don't forget Coe still holds the second fastest time at that distance -- and he was running nearly 30 years ago.'' Ignoring the more traditional pleasures of student life, Dobin runs 70 miles a week, does hour-long stretching sessions and pumps weights to keep his body in condition.

He also has a physiotherapist who provides regular massages to keep his body in his shape as one of his legs is shorter than the other, which has contributed to a pelvis injury.

''I've been struggling with the injury for the last two years,'' said Dobin, ''but when you do a race like the Great Court run and things click, it shows what you can do.'' Dobin has been inundated by media requests since winning the Trinity race and is hoping the publicity might secure him a sponsor.

''I would love the chance to do some warm weather training at altitude as that would really help my development,'' he said.

Both Lord Burghley and Coe pursued political careers after retiring from sport and Dobin is also hoping to follow in their steps from the track to Westminster.

''I want to go into politics as a Conservative MP. I've been politically involved for the last four years and have already debated with Tory leader David Cameron on television and met former Prime Minister Tony Blair's wife Cherie.'' First though is the small matter of achieving his dream of running for Britain in the 2012 Olympics.

''I have had lots of congratulations from runners and coaches, but nothing from governing bodies like the British Olympic Association or UK Athletics,'' said Dobin. ''I'm keeping my fingers crossed that might change.'' REUTERS TB AS2030

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