Callum Wilkinson sees move to train with Olympic medalist Rob Heffernan in Ireland as the next stage of his development
Moulton race walker Callum Wilkinson has revealed his disqualification from last month’s World Athletics Championship was a leading factor in his decision to move to Ireland and continue his career over there.
The 22-year-old was sixth with just 4K of the 20K race remaining when he was shown a fourth and final red card by the judges in Doha.
It was a tough experience for Wilkinson, but one that he is now determined to learn from following his switch across the Irish Sea to work with Olympic bronze medalist Robert Heffernan.
“It all happened really quickly and I have already had a session with Rob and the team,” said the former Moulton Primary School pupil, who is based in Cork.
“It was good to get stuck in early and we have already worked on some technical stuff.
“The disqualification was tough and sitting on that roadside I was gutted, but you have to learn from it.
“I have known Rob a little while and when I raced in Ireland in July we had a chat and he said a lot of things that made sense.
“It felt like time to reflect after the disqualification and I came to the conclusion that joining up with Rob was the next step.
“I need to evaluate my own technique and Rob is going to be a big help with that because he has been there and done it.
“I was in the top six in Doha, but I need a top six technique. There is nothing to lose in improving technically and being the best prepared I can be.”
Sport at the highest level is as much about the mental aspect as it is technical, and how an athlete copes with setbacks can be crucial to their long-term chances of success.
Wilkinson was visibly upset in the initial aftermath of events in Doha, yet it is not an experience he is planning to let fester.
"Even people that know me well, they were a little bit apprehensive to talk about Doha but I did not mind discussing it," he added.
"It happened, I was upset at the time but ultimately it is just race walking. I can still see the wood for the trees.
"People assume I did not enjoy the experience but I loved it. The heat, all of the tactics, it was a really big challenge.
"After 16K I was in sixth and feeling good, so there is so much to take from the whole competition.
"I am not going to dwell on the disqualification but at the same time I am not going to put it to the back of my mind because that would just negate any benefits I need to take."
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More by this authorLiam Apicella