Callum Wilkinson has set his sights on becoming Britain’s quickest ever junior race walker — before challenging others to catch him if they can.
The former King Edward VI Upper School sixth form pupil is among the 40 odd-strong Great Britain squad out in Eskilstuna, Sweden as he prepares to battle it out against the best youngsters from across Europe in the prestigious European Athletics Junior Championships.
And having clocked a new personal best time of 42 minutes 49 seconds, smashing his previous record of 44.15 at the Junior 10km European Cup for Race Walking in Murcia in May, the 18-year-old is confident of walking sub 42 minutes as he aims to break the current British record of 41.52 and force his way into the top 10.
“This is the biggest competition I’ve competed in so far and so I’m really excited to challenge myself against the best juniors in Europe,” he said.
“I would love to go sub 42 minutes and achieve another big personal best.
“I want to be the fastest British junior ever and I think that is a realistic aim.
“In terms of placing, a top 10 finish would be great but I’d like to finish in the top seven because that would also be the highest ever finish from a British junior.
“I know I can go quicker, I just need to find a better technical rhythm, but it is a real possibility.
“All the signals are there that I can go sub 42 minutes and I am confident I can do that if I put in my best performance.
“To be competing at the European Championships at this stage of my career is phenomenal and just to be part of the team is amazing.
“To be going up against the best juniors in Europe is a great opportunity and I never thought I’d get there when I started competing.”
However, despite dreaming having his name among the history books, the former King Edward VI Upper School student revealed he hoped any new record of his would not stand long as he challenged the nation’s next generation of race walkers to continue to build the profile of the sport in Britain and help catch the world’s best.
“It would be an amazing feeling to break the record, but if I did I would hope it didn’t stand for that long because we need other youngsters to come through and push the sport on even further,” he added.
“The standard of race walking in this country needs to really progress further.
“Three world records have been broken in the past year and we now need to catch up a little bit.
“The sport as a whole has been improving in Britain and I’m proud to be part of that but it would be great to see it progress even further.”
n Stowmarket-based javelin thrower Harry Hughes, also a King Edward Sixth Form student, will also be joining Wilkinson in Sweden after being included among the squad for the competition.