‘Fighter’ Kilty is determined to carry on proving people wrong

Britain's Richard Kilty celebrates after winning the men's 60m final in Sopot.
Britain's Richard Kilty celebrates after winning the men's 60m final in Sopot.
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As befits the new world indoor champion for 60 metres, Richard Kilty’s Twitter status was quickly updated to reflect his shock elevation to the sprinting elite.

The 24-year-old, from Stockton, now has his sights on becoming only the second white man to break the 10-second barrier for 100m following his remarkable triumph in 6.49secs in Sopot.

Until Saturday evening, Kilty’s career was more memorable for a catalogue of missed opportunities and controversial incidents, including being convicted of causing criminal damage last November by smashing his hand through the window of an estate agency in his home town. He was fined £500 and offered to pay it off at £5 per week.

He was also arrested over an alleged baseball bat attack in 2012 and although later cleared of any wrongdoing, blamed the bad publicity for costing him sponsors.

That occurred around the same time as London was staging the Olympics for which he had been controversially overlooked, despite running the qualifying standard for the 200m.

After an unsuccessful appeal, Kilty considered quitting the sport or possibly representing Ireland, saying he felt “let down” by governing body British Athletics.

He also suffered a torn hamstring and was struggling to get by without any funding, but returned to the track in January 2013 and posted enough impressive times to be restored to the funding programme in October.

Now training under Rana Reider in Loughborough rather than alone on the streets of Teesside, Kilty aims to emulate France’s Christophe Lemaitre by running under 10 seconds outdoors; his current personal best is 10.10secs.

“This guy’s helped so much,” Kilty said after hugging Reider following his dramatic win.

“My two biggest helps have been my dad and Rana the last six months. He’s given me confidence, he’s fixed my technique, he’s made me believe I can be one of the world’s best sprinters.

“I think I can run nine seconds. I’m not going to say I’m going to do it this year or next year but I think within my career I can run well into nine seconds. I know that’s a pretty big statement with my skin colour – being white – but I wouldn’t mind being the next man to break 10 seconds.

“I’ve come out and become world champion, so to do that’s not so much of a problem.”

Kilty credits Reider for realising he was an “undiscovered talent” who was always overlooked by “certain members” of British Athletics who are no longer with the organisation, a reference to former head coach Charles van Commenee who left his post after the Olympics.

“In the past, there were members I didn’t get on with for some reason. Maybe I was overlooked because I am from the north-east,” added Kilty, who replaced the injured James Dasaolu in the British team for Sopot.

“I wasn’t angry, I thrive on that, I am a fighter and nothing can keep me down. I have come through so many struggles and hard work. I have come from an area which is deprived.

“Hopefully this can make people in Teesside and Britain realise that if you come from a deprived area, if you think you don’t have an option in life, you always have.

“Anyone can do it if I can do it, if you work towards it. I like proving people wrong and hopefully I can continue doing that.”

Yesterday, there was a silver for the men’s 4x400m relay team of Conrad Williams, Jamie Bowie, Luke Lennon-Ford and Nigel Levine, who were denied gold by a world record from the USA.

Andrew Osagie claimed a second successive bronze in the 800m despite crossing the line in fourth place, with Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski subsequently disqualified.

The British team successfully lodged a protest after Lewandowski was seen to step off the inside of the track on the final bend before holding off Osagie.

There were also bronze medals for the women’s 4x400m, who failed to defend their title from two years ago, when Britain won a record haul of nine medals.

Barnsley’s Luke Cutts, Britain’s only representative in the pole vault final, finished eighth.

The 26-year-old national champion posted a mark of 5.65m, after failing at 5.75.

Greece’s Konstadínos Filippidis won gold at 5.80, which is three centimetres shy of the British record Cutts set back in January.

There was disappointment in the women’s pole vault too as medal prospect Holly Bleasdale could only finish ninth after failing to clear 4.65m.

Asha Philip was unable to add to the medal tally in the 60m final, the former world youth champion finishing fourth in 7.11 secs as Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce took gold.

Andy Pozzi came fourth in the 60m hurdles in another new personal best of 7.53secs, with team-mate William Sharman in seventh.