Olympic finalist Steve Solomon will be the man to beat in the 400m at the national track and field championships this weekend.
Source:
AAP
2 Apr 2014 - 2:54 PM  UPDATED 2 Apr 2014 - 2:56 PM

Fully recovered from a debilitating back injury, Steve Solomon has declared he's getting near the sort of form that propelled him into the 400m final at the London Olympics.

Solomon will race in Australia for the first time since the 2012 Olympics when he contests the one-lap race at the national championships in Melbourne this weekend.

The strong field includes 2006 Commonwealth Games champion John Steffensen, defending title-holder Alex Beck, Sean Wroe and Craig Burns.

Solomon is into his second year studying pre-medicine and racing for Stanford University in the United States.

"Last year was tough with the injury but that was the biggest risk going into college and going into an environment with a lot of new people, having to learn how my body reacts," Solomon said on Wednesday.

"Unfortunately it did happen, but we've moved past that, we've grown stronger and it almost gelled the coaching staff, myself and the supplementary staff together on the same page.

"Now we've got a clearer idea of where my body's at.

"I'm fit and healthy now and really looking forward to getting back to where I was around the London Olympic Games time and then pushing forward from there."

The 20-year-old recovered well enough from the lower back complaint to compete in the 4x400m relay at last year's world championships.

But he was unable to tackle the individual 400m in Moscow in a year dominated by American LaShawn Merritt, with Solomon's fellow young guns Kirani James, 21, and Luguelin Santos, 20, also near the top of the world rankings.

Olympic champion James, from Grenada, shapes as the man to beat in the 400m at the Commonwealth Games beginning in Glasgow in late July.

"In times they have jumped ahead a bit but I am fully confident in my position to start reeling back those times," said Solomon, who set his PB of 44.97 seconds in the Olympic semi-finals.

"Hopefully I'll be really competitive and give them some good challenges in the months and years to come."

Solomon said the coaching staff at Stanford had been fully supportive of his need to prioritise the Commonwealth Games above all other racing commitments in 2014.

"If that means taking my taper back a week or forward a week towards the NCAA championships to make sure my body is the best position it can be come Glasgow, they're going to do that," he said.

"I'm really confident in my sprint coach and the directors' racing schedules, that it's putting me in the best position to do well both when I'm competing for Stanford and Australia."

The A qualifying standard for the Commonwealth Games is 45.30 seconds with the final scheduled for Saturday at Lakeside Stadium.