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Houston hopes to be more than flash in pan

Making every second count: Houston has made the most of his Rio experience (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Tre Houston is determined to make sure his Olympic Games are not over in a matter of seconds having already spent two weeks in Rio.

Houston said he has soaked up the Olympic experience at the athletes village in Barra da Tijuca, making the most of his downtime and switching off from the pressures of competition.

He insists, however, he will have no problem entering “the zone” when he competes in his 200 metres heat at the Olympic Stadium this morning, hoping to force his way into the semi-finals.

“This is a dream come true and every day I wake up I say to myself, ‘I’m here’, but it’s not going to be done until I’m on the track and I cross the finish line.” Houston said.

“When I get into the stadium and into that environment I’m switched on automatically. It’s very easy for me to get switched on and I don’t get distracted when I have a job to do.

“Hopefully everything goes well and I execute a good race.”

Houston believes he has learnt from his mistakes and misfortune over the past few years as he prepares to make his Olympic debut.

He accepts he will have to shatter his personal best and national record of 20.42sec to stand a chance of achieving his goal, but can take confidence from knowing he has earned the right to be in Rio.

“I made it to the Olympics, that’s my dream and you can’t get any higher than that,” Houston said.

“I can now characterise myself as a top athlete as I’m here now and I’m part of it.

“They only took the top 48 in the world and it’s a big accomplishment just to be here.

“It’s all about reaching the semi-finals now; that’s all I want. I’ll definitely have to run a PB, a 20.3 or 20.2. If I run a personal best and don’t make the semis, I’ll still be happy.”

The 26-year-old missed out on qualifying for the London Olympics in 2012 by an agonising two-tenths of a second in the 200, and said the television set in the Houston household showed little or no Olympic coverage that summer.

The following year, having lost a substantial portion of his funding from the Bermuda Olympic Association, he relocated to his namesake city in the United States to rebuild his athletics career.

Life has become a little easier for Houston since being reinstated to the BOA Elite Athlete List in October last year.

His elevation was a more than justified reward after posting a personal best at the Texas State University Friday Night All-Comers Meet in June last year to qualify for Rio.

“After I finished school in London [where Houston trained at Brunel University for two years] the funding kind of stopped,” he said.

“[The BOA] sort of pulled the cards from me because I didn’t make the Olympics that year.

“It was a big blow but I probably blame myself. I was still young and wanted to have fun. I didn’t really understand a lot of things that I know now.

“It was a learning curve and every cent of funding I receive now is put in the right department.”

Houston insists he will not be overawed by the Olympics. He ran in front of a packed house at the “Bird’s Nest” stadium in Beijing at last summer’s World Championships and felt he handled the occasion well.

He did not make it out of his 200 heat, however, finishing in 20.92, but said he gained plenty from that performance.

“I can’t see anything being too different from when I stepped out at the ‘Bird’s Nest’,” said Houston, who has signed with Wisconsin-based agency Take Notice Sports Management. “I was like ‘wow’, and I got real pumped.

“I still look at the video from that race and say to myself ‘man, I can never let that happen to me again, the way that guy separated from me in the first 30 or 50 [metres].

“That’s the difference between a top athlete and a world-class athlete.”

Houston has been named in heat seven with Mike Mokamba Nyang’au of Kenya, Churandy Martina of Holland, Brendon Rodney of Canada, Davide Manenti of Italy, Adama Jammeh of Gambia and Nery Brenes of Costa Rica.