Midlands-based sprinter Matthew Hudson-Smith has progressed significantly over the years and has fought injury to become one of England’s running stars, and now is looking forward to facing an Olympic champion on his home turf next weekend.
The 21 year-old’s showdown with Grenadian, Kirani James in the 400 metres will take place at this year’s Birmingham Diamond League, which is exactly two months from the event.
The clash will take place at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium, a track close to the heart of Hudson-Smith, who joined Birchfield Harriers more than a decade ago and where he still trains today.
The one-lap specialist burst on to the scene in 2014 when he clocked 44.97 to become only the second British teenager to the break the 45-second barrier.
During that golden spell, he claimed 4 x 400m gold medals at the Commonwealth and European Championships and ran a new personal best of 44.75 to take silver in Zurich.
Having broken onto the scene two years ago, and experiencing the magic of Glasgow 2014, Hudson-Smith would have quite rightly thought that his career was on track for great progress.
But 2015 was blighted by injury and three stress fractures in his back cost Hudson-Smith the chance to build.
Now, though, he is fully recovered and raring to go. He said: "I'm excited to be racing on my home track and the Birmingham Diamond League meeting will in some ways replicate the Olympics.
"The only way you can be the best is to race the best and in the Olympics you’re going to be taking on the best in the world, so it's going to assimilate that type of stiff competition.
"My fitness is good and I'm feeling strong and quickish to a certain degree, though I'm not quite race-ready and still a little rusty. More training and races will get me more fluent and ready. "
Hudson-Smith faced James in Birmingham two years ago but admitted he did not do himself justice and was 'shattered' after his European exertions.
“I've got more of a clear understanding now of how it works and I'm really looking forward to the challenge.
"This race means a lot because it's at the club where I've been since I was 10. I basically grew up here. Lots of people have watched me grow and develop as a person and as a runner and I want to show them how far I've come.
"It's going to be crazy and exciting because there aren't many people in their jobs who can say they're performing in front of people who've seen them grow up against the best runners in the world.
"I'll be the local boy so hopefully they'll get behind me and cheer me on. I want to execute a good race and put myself into a good position going into the British trials."
With the Birmingham Diamond League exactly two months to Rio, it’s a vital part of Hudson-Smith’s preparations for what will hopefully be his first Olympic Games.
"My aim is to get to Rio and from there to step up to the challenge, just like everyone else. Not many people would have said that Wayde van Niekerk, of South Africa, would run 43.48 to win the world championships last year."
The Birmingham Diamond League line-up also includes Team England stars such as Adam Gemili, Dina Asher-Smith, Richard Kilty, James Ellington, Christine Ohuruogu and Asha Philip.
* For tickets to the Birmingham Diamond League visit britishathletics.org.uk