Record-breaking race walker Callum Wilkinson is all set for Anniversary Games
- Credit: Archant
Callum Wilkinson is no ordinary race walker – he is the current British Junior champion, over 10K, and will next month be competing at the World Athletics Championships in London.
Still aged only 20, Wilkinson has over the last week become the first UK race walker to dip under six minutes for a mile-race on the road (at the Hyde Park Harriers Summer Mile in Leeds), while a few days later he eclipsed the UK record for 5K on the track, albeit finishing second to new record holder Tom Bosworth.
In short – Wilkinson would leave most runners, with the exception of more serious club athletes, trailing in his wake, without even breaking stride!
Like many race walkers, Wilkinson started out as a runner, but he soon found his niche in the world of race walking, and he has not looked back since.
The sport is now taking Wilkinson, who comes from Moulton near Newmarket, all over the world.
Certainly, the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, look very attainable for an athlete who is getting faster with every passing week.
He also appears certain to get quicker as the years go by, as he gains yet more experience.
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Incredibly, Wilkinson’s first ever race over the senior 20K distance saw him achieve the qualifying standard for the World Championships, when clocking 83mins 47secs at the Lugano Trophy in Switzerland, in March.
He bettered his personal best with a scorching 82:17 in his second outing over the 20K event, at the prestigious European Race Walking Cup in Podebrady, Czech Republic, in May.
Wilkinson not only cruised under the 84-minute mark for the World Championships, but also finished 10th overall, a fantastic achievement in only his second major senior race..
He went on to guarantee his selection for the World Championships by finishing in the top two at the World Trials in Roundhay Park, Leeds, last Sunday week, finishing just a second behind his GB team-mate Tom Bosworth in 84:59.
That, you would think, would be enough for the time being, a chance to just concentrate on training for the World Championships – the race-walks, free to watch, are being staged on The Mall in London on Sunday, August 13.
But nothing of it.
Instead, Wilkinson has continued competing, and continued breaking records, and he hasn’t quite finished yet, before he heads off to the Pyrenees for three weeks of altitude training.
This weekend, the former King Edward VI School pupil (Bury St Edmunds) will be in action at the London Stadium taking part in a one-mile race-walk at the London Anniversary Games.
And his most recent success was an impressive 5K showing at the British Championships in Birmingham last weekend, where he clocked a superb 18mins 56.96secs.
“It’s been a great last week for me, there’s been some amazing performances,” enthused Wilkinson.
“It was great to be the first UK race walker to go under six minutes for the mile, on the roads. That showed I was in good shape.
“Then the 5K on Sunday was amazing. There was a good crowd, and to beat the 19-minute barrier was a big moment.
“Not many race walkers manage to achieve that. It’s the sign of being world-class, so I’m delighted to have walked under 19 minutes.
“It’s a big step up for me, and all at the age of only 20!
“Hopefully, it’s the sign of things to come. It shows I am in good condition, and that I’m getting the best out of all my training. I’ve raced a lot recently, and I’ve got one more race this weekend, which will be exciting,” added Wilkinson.
Referring to this Sunday’s appearance at the London Stadium, he continued: “There will be a big crowd, and it will be a great experience. It will be amazing to compete in the (2012) Olympic Stadium, and my aim will be to go under six minutes again, and challenge everyone who is there.
“It will be the first-ever time that a race walk has been part of a Diamond League meeting, so it will be a special occasion.
“There will be a strong field, and it all shows how competitive race walking has become in this country. It will be my last race before the Worlds, and I want to enjoy it. For all my achievements, I’m still finishing second to Tom (Bosworth), so I’d like to change that!”