Medals the target as Wilkinson steps it up

James Wilkinson.
James Wilkinson.
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James Wilkinson is aiming for a major medal breakthrough at the European Championships in Zurich this week.

The 24-year-old from Leeds, who represents the city’s athletics club, is fresh from a fifth place finish in the 3,000m steeplechase at the Commonwealth Games two weeks ago.

Coming hot on the heels of the Glasgow meet, it is the third big event in Wilkinson’s development as a regular at international competitions.

“Last year was a breakthrough and I feel as though I’ve taken it on again,” said Wilkinson, who debuted on the top stage at the World Championships in Moscow last summer.

“The World Championships was always going to be massive and, for me, it was about ensuring it was a learning experience.

“I’m hoping to learn plenty from Glasgow and Zurich but they have come at a good time for me in my development.

“Last year was the learning curve; this year is when I try and contend for medals at major championships so that I’m further equipped for the next World Championships and the 2016 Olympics.”

Loughborough-based Wilkinson, who had to fund his own training camp in Arizona in April, matched his ranking of fifth in the Commonwealth and arrives in Zurich for this morning’s heat ranked seventh in Europe.

“The field is a lot closer for the Europeans. There’s only five seconds between the second- and seventh-ranked athletes,” he said.

“At the Commonwealths, there was 10 seconds between myself in fifth and the guy ahead of me, which is a lot harder to make up.

“But I’ve made good strides the last year and I’m confident.

“I was pretty happy with what I achieved in Glasgow.

“It’s a strange feeling coming out of one major championship straight into another. But I’m looking forward to it.”

Four of Yorkshire’s medallists from the Commonwealths are in Zurich. Pole vault silver medallist Luke Cutts, of Barnsley, looks to continue his renaissance over the last 12 months while Rotherham’s Louise Bloor and Stockton’s Richard Kilty hope to turn 4x100m relay bronze and silver into gold. Leeds-based Laura Weightman, who won silver in Glasgow, runs in the 1,500m.