Suffolk’s Callum Wilkinson ready to ‘mix it’ with the world’s best
- Credit: PA
Suffolk’s Callum Wilkinson believes he’s ready to mix it with the world’s best after a breakthrough result at the Commonwealth Games over the weekend.
Former world junior 10K champion Wilkinson, competing at his first major Games on the Gold Coast, secured an impressive top-10 finish when he came home in seventh spot in the men’s 20km race walk.
The 21-year old clocked 1hr 22mins 35secs in the event on a sun-drenched Currumbin beach, just 18 seconds outside his personal best. It was a fine achievement by Wilkinson, a former King Edward VI pupil in Bury St Edmunds, who comes from Moulton, near Newmarket.
“I’m five years younger than anyone else in the field and I’ve punched above my weight and taken some great scalps,” said Wilkinson, who finished 41st at last year’s World Championships in London.
“To be that close to a PB at my first major Games is a brilliant result. I’m really proud of myself. I got my tactics absolutely spot on. I sat off the main pack and I knew those guys wouldn’t last the pace and I walked through the field really well.
“I’ve been trying to avoid thinking about the Commonwealth Games or it would overwhelm me. My big performance goal was top 10 and I’ve absolutely smashed that.”
Having had a taste of the big stage, Wilkinson is in no mood to sit back and celebrate – with the season only just cranking into gear. The Leeds Beckett student will return home for more training before jetting out for his next big race in China next month. And then all roads lead to the European Championships in Berlin this summer.
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Wilkinson admits the inspiration of team-mate Tom Bosworth, who claimed Commonwealth Games silver in a new national record, only inspires him further.
“Two years ago I won the world junior title and Tom came sixth at the Olympics, walking at the front of the race in Rio – that shows where this sport is now,” he added.
“Tom and I work really closely and have prepared together and I’m delighted for him to get that silver.
“I’m looking for another top ten at the European Championships. I’ll spend some time at altitude before the champs and, if I can just stay injury free, then I really hope to be in personal-best shape.
“I just need more experience of racing at the top end of world-class field.
“I’ve got a race in China in a few weeks and I’m going to try and sit with the top pack for a bit longer.
“I just want to mix it with the best guys in the world and I feel I’m getting really close to that.”
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