Record-breaking Suffolk athlete Callum Wilkinson gunning for further medals
- Credit: Archant
Suffolk athlete Callum Wilkinson is now targeting future medals, after powering to an impressive national junior record, for the 10K race walk, at last weekend’s European Junior Athletics Championships, staged in Eskilstuna, Sweden.
Wilkinson, a real star in the making, achieved his goal of setting the new national landmark on his way to a fine seventh spot in last Saturday’s event.
The 18-year-old from Moulton, near Newmarket, clocked 41mins 34.63secs, so knocking 18 seconds off the previous under-20 record, which had been set way back in 1987 by Darrell Stone (41:52.13).
In the process, an in-form Wilkinson shaved almost 80 seconds off his personal best, and was in fact only three seconds adrift of finishing in fifth place.
Furthermore, five of the six athletes ahead of Wilkinson were competing in their final year in this age group, and so were a year older.
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“I was delighted with the race,” enthused Wilkinson, on his return from Sweden.
“Going into the event, I had the target of the national junior record, but whether I could get it was another matter.
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“I just gave it my all. Training had been going well, and I went through the first kilometre spot-on, in 4mins 10secs.
“The pace slowed a bit during the second kilometre, so to keep to my target, I even took the lead between the third and fifth laps, which was a great feeling – to be leading in a European Championship race.
“I had strong walkers all around me, and we went through the half-way mark in 20:40 which until two weeks ago in Birmingham, would have been my 5K personal best!
“Psychologically, I slowed a bit for a while, thinking that I was going a bit too quick, which meant the sixth kilometre was my slowest of the race.
“But I got my head down after that. Technically, I was sound, because I didn’t have any cards, and in the end there was a 200m sprint between me, a German and a Greek.
“I didn’t have enough in the tank to get ahead of them, but it was still great to knock 18 seconds off the record,” added Wilkinson.
With that national record under his belt Wilkinson, who is coached by Mick Graham on the track at Bury St Edmunds, with former Commonwealth Games champion Ron Wallwork as his mentor, now wants to get among the medals at future international events.
“There’s the World Junior Championships (in Russia) and the World Race Walking Cup next year, and I will be aiming for medals at these races,” insisted Wilkinson.
“I’ve showed great promise over the last year, but now I need to step it up again.
“I managed to improve my 10K time by four-and-a-half-minutes in just one year, so next year I’ll be looking towards a low 40-minute time.
“That sort of time should see me being able to compete in any junior race, in any year, so I will be the one to beat next year.
“To that end, I need to stamp my authority on the European stage.
“The only guy, of the same age, to beat me in Sweden was the Russian (second-placed Vladislav Saraykin) and he was only 30-odd seconds ahead of me (in 40.59), which is nothing in terms of race walking,” added Wilkinson.
Former King Edward VI pupil Wilkinson will defend his English Schools title in Bedford in September, while next month he is set to defend his South of England crown at Ashford, and also compete in the Inter-County Championships at Bedford.
This result ranks Wilkinson as 11th on the UK All-time list, for 10K.