“It feels pretty amazing” — that was Callum Wilkinson’s immediate response after being asked how it felt to be Europe’s 10th fastest race walker.
Currently, it is commonplace for the Moulton athlete to break one record or another when he steps out on to a course.
But even by his high standards, Sunday’s performance at the European Race Walking Cup in the Czech Republic defied expectations.
In what was just his second ever competitive senior outing over 20km, Wilkinson clocked a time of 82 minutes and 17 seconds, shaving 90 seconds off the previous British Under-23 record he set in Switzerland two months ago.
It was also the fourth quickest British result of all time and enough to finish 10th in a race that contained some of the sport’s biggest names.
And what particularly pleased Wilkinson was the fact he reached the heights without feeling overly strained.
“I felt really comfortable for a lot of the race and I even hit the front for a little while. It was a bit surreal,” said the 20-year-old.
“I decided to float back into the field a little bit because I did not want to get carried away, but I kept on feeling comfortable.
“The expectation was that it would be hard after 15k, but it did not really happen and was able to get through boundaries that I did not think would happen.
“My legs did tire towards the end, but I managed to kick on and get the job done.
“Finishing as the second fastest under-23 in the race and the 10th fastest in Europe speaks for itself.
“It is amazing to think I achieved that and I am very proud because there is a lot of hard work involved.”
On an individual level Wilkinson has enjoyed plenty of success over the last 12 months, but he is now also becoming a key figure for his country.
Along with Olympians Tom Bosworth and Dominic King, as well as youngster Cam Corbishley, Wilkinson was part of a British quartet that finished fourth at the event with 50 points — a national record.
Bosworth in fourth and Wilkinson’s display dominated the talk on social media, but the latter believes the team result shows how far British race walking has come over recent years.
“Truth be told, Britain did not used to command too much respect in the race walking world,” he added.
“Now, we have two members finishing in Europe’s top 10 and people are taking notice.
“Tom and I might get some of the limelight, but it is all about the team and everyone that provides the support.
“It is a really exciting team to be a part of.”
On June 3, Wilkinson will return to his roots in the Moulton 5k.