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Records continue to tumble for wilkinson

RISING STAR: Callum Wilkinson
RISING STAR: Callum Wilkinson

Over the previous 12 months, the Moulton athlete announced himself on the international stage with a string of record-breaking performances — the standout of which came at the World Under-20 Athletics Championships in Poland, where Wilkinson became the first British athlete in 52 years to win a global race-walking title.

After a festive break, the 19-year-old returned to action at the England Athletics Indoor Championships in Sheffield last weekend and in keeping with his 2016 form, stormed to victory over 3000m in a new British Under-23 record of 11 minutes and 35 seconds.

But despite having put such a commanding win on the board so early in the year, Wilkinson was left with mixed emotions on the finish line.

“It is a new year and it is nice to know not too much has changed — I can still set new records and break personal bests,” he said.

“However, because I am lacking some practice I felt a little bit rusty out there and ended up feeling a bit disappointed.

“It is tough to explain. I still have the same mind-set as I had towards the end of last year when I was fully fit.

“I felt ready to race, but not sharp enough.

“That will come over time with my training programme, so there is no need to be too hard on myself.”

Sunday’s triumph in Yorkshire has made Wilkinson’s inclusion as the sole English representative at an IAAF International Indoor event in Bratislava later this month a formality.

That particular race will be over 5km, which by the Leeds Beckett University student’s own admission, is his preferred distance.

Yet, while he will head to the Slovakian capital determined to improve upon his personal best time of 19mins 39.69secs, Wilkinson has more than half an eye on his step up to senior level and the 20km races.

It is in that company when it will be decided if the teenager has what it takes to secure himself a place in the Team GB squad for the World Athletics Championships in London this August.

“The 20km is my biggest focus and the training I have done so far has gone really well,” he added.

“I am not getting too carried away, but I have already done one amazing time during my sessions.

“As far as London goes, I just need to make sure I keep progressing and ensure I am in a position to make the qualifying time when it is set.

“London would be a unique experience and it is something to really look forward to.

“Nothing is confirmed at present, but I am planning to enter my first competitive 20km race in March.”

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