Tom Bosworth believes the British public will play an integral part in his pursuit of adding medals to his record-breaking performances.
Bosworth has taken British race-walking to new levels in the last two years and almost claimed a surprise medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Despite entering the 20km road walk ranked 37th in the world, the Leeds-based athlete set the early pace before finishing strongly to record an excellent sixth place.
The result has placed him on the radar for possible success at this summer’s World Championships in London where he will continue his role of flagbearer for the event on these shores.
Bosworth starts his year at the British Indoor Championships in Sheffield this weekend where he will get a reminder of the additional force provided by a home crowd.
“It makes all the difference when you have got the crowd behind you in the last few laps,” Bosworth told The Yorkshire Post.
“Without that support, I don’t think I would break any record. I always seem to break records in front of British crowds.”
The 27-year-old dipped under 11 minutes for the first time to set a national record over the 3,000m distance at the English Institute of Sport 12 months ago – setting him up for a year of highs.
He will race over 5,000m this time around and another record-breaking performance would go a long way to signalling what he might achieve in the capital later this summer.
“If I can replicate what I did last year and break the record, that would be perfect,” said Bosworth.
“It’s not the end of the day if I don’t, but if I do, it would prove what form and fitness I am in ahead of the year.
“It was always going to be tough to get back into training after the Olympic season but the winter has gone as well as last year.
“This year is all about replicating what I have been doing. I want to be in the world’s top eight again or even seeing if I can hold on for medals.
“I have confidence from last year that I can do it.”
The championships will see the best of Britain battling it out for selection for the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade at the start of March.
Rotherham sprinter Louise Bloor will miss out on the championships – where she won the 200m in 2016 – due to injury.
In her absence, Rio Olympic 4x100m medallist Asha Philip will attempt to retain her 60m title where she won a thrilling women’s 60m race last year.
Philip said: “I love competing at indoor meets, so I’m really excited to be competing here this week.
“I think the fact that indoor events are so raw – it’s a bang for the start, and then it’s all over so quickly – makes for an exciting race too.
“The crowds on home soil are always fantastic too, and I expect they’ll be on great form this weekend.”
Former world indoor champion Richard Kilty leads the standings heading into the men’s event where he will face competition from veteran Dwain Chambers and emerging talent Kyle de Escofet.
Yorkshire representation over the two days in Sheffield has been hit by the attraction of the revolutionary series of Nitro Athletics events fronted by Usain Bolt in Australia.
Bolt’s All-Stars have won the opening two events of the team series, which has reformatted traditional events and introduced medley relays and bonus features.
An English team are competing against Bolt’s squad and teams from China, Australia, Japan and New Zealand.
Wakefield veteran Charlene Thomas finished second in the elimination mile event at the second meeting on Thursday.
The race, similar to that seen in the Olympic track cycling roster, sees the three athletes eliminated at the end of each lap before a race to the finish.
Sheffield’s Karla Drew, part of Toni Minichiello’s group at Sheffield and Dearne athletics club, finished last in the 100m – five days after finishing fourth in the 100m hurdles at the opening event.
Olympic gold medallist Christine Ohuruogu is captaining the England team and she led the mixed 4x400m relay to victory.
Pudsey middle distance runner Alexandra Bell and Sheffield pole-vaulter Adam Hague are also part of the English squad.