In a short space of time Callum Wilkinson has turned what seems like “a funny walk” into his gateway to conquering the world.
His gold medal in this year’s World Junior Race-Walk final made him the first British race-walker to win a gold medal on the world stage since Ken Matthews in the 1964 Olympic Games – a big leap from being what he describes as a “complete novice” when he was introduced to the sport four years ago.
And now, his placement British Athletics Futures Programme for a second year running comes at a very crucial time.
“I’ve got a big jump this year from 10km to the 20km race,” he said, “So it’s incredibly vital to make sure the programme helps to make the transition as successful as possible.
“But I’m in a really good position right now in terms of the support and the times I’m clocking, so I’m just really excited about the future and how I can move forward.”
With the Senior World Championships coming to London next year, the Junior Champion has his sites set firmly on a place in the competition.
“The base and foundation work is what I’m putting in now, because without it you can’t achieve success in the summer.
“You’ve got to be really focussed because right now it might seem like a long time away, but soon enough it’ll be there so the work I’m doing now is key in creating that base and right now I’m really enjoying it.”
The 20-year-old is helped by Britain’s National Race Walking Centre based at Leeds Beckett University, training alongside Tom Bosworth, who finished sixth at the Rio Olympics.
“The set up here was a clear option for me coming to Leeds almost from when I started looking at universities,” he added.
“I had a look at the set up and saw the campus and I feel like I’ve really fallen in love with Leeds now, so I’m really pleased I decided to come here.
“I’m from a tiny village down south called Moulton just outside Newmarket so being a southerner living amongst northerners makes a huge change.
“Leeds is a big city but I absolutely love it.
“Headingley is a great place to live, a great place to train and I’ve really been welcomed by everyone here,”
So for Callum, everything is firmly in position for him to make the next step in what promises to be a long and successful race-walking career.