Callum Wilkinson insists he is still very much at the start of his career after smashing his own British junior record in Rome at the weekend.
The Moulton teenager took fourth place in the junior men’s 10km at the IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships on Saturday, with his time of 40 minutes and 30 seconds breaking his previous national record of 41:31 set earlier this year.
Wilkinson’s record time saw him finish agonizingly just one second behind Mexico’s Noel Ali Chama (40:29) and seven seconds adrift of China’s Jun Zhang (40:23), who won the race.
But the 19-year-old, whose fourth-place finish was the best by a British athlete in the World Race Walking Team Championships since 1979, is determined to use his performance as motivation for a busy schedule of races this summer.
“It has got to be my highest overall performance in terms of the time and the position,” Wilkinson reflected.
“Last year, at this stage of the year, I was the 12th best in Europe and now 12 months on I’ve just finished as the fourth best in the world.
“To finish fourth is always a gutting place to finish, and to have been only a second off of getting a medal as well, but I’ll not be too downbeat on it and will use it as motivation.
“I’m still classed as one of the promising youngsters, so as much as I’d love all the success now I know that my career is really only at the very start.”
Wilkinson made a strong start to the race on Saturday, leading the front group around the opening laps before passing the halfway point at 5km in 20:24 in a lead group of seven.
The next two laps saw the former King Edward VI School pupil maintain his position at the front, with the crucial break coming at the 8km mark when Wilkinson, Zhang and Chama moved away from the field.
Wilkinson fell off the leading group at the 9km point and was passed by Spain’s Manuel Bermudez, before heading into the last 300m just 15m behind.
Wilkinson made a brave bid over the last 150m in an effort to catch the front runners and finished just short of the podium.
“I was really pleased with my performance,” he said. “I was in with a chance of winning the gold medal and from the first gate I was confident I could sit up there with the best.
“It’s an exciting time as a competitor because we’re now coming into the summer season which I love.
“You get to see the results for all the hard work you’ve done in the winter and I know there’s more there. Now I need to stay on the pace until the end of the race and nail perfect races.”
Wilkinson will get the chance to test himself against the world’s best again at the IAAF World U20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland this July.