All roads can lead to Paris for rising Leeds star Ethan Hussey

LEEDS runner Ethan Hussey knows there is expectation on his young shoulders for good reason; a few reasons in fact.

RISING STAR: Leeds athlete Ethan Hussey. Picture: Sportsshoes/Simon Nieborak.

The 17-year-old is quicker than British star Steve Cram was at the same age at three different distances.

Thirty six years have passed since Cram took a silver medal at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games in the 1500m.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

If Hussey has his way, the 2024 Paris Olympics will present his ultimate chance to shine.

SPORTS AWARDS: Ethan Hussey was named Young Sportsman of the year at the recent Leeds Sports Awards. Picture: Allan McKenzie\SWpix.com.

Yet at what distance remains open to debate for a runner keeping every option open, on and off the running track.

Hussey is ranked the world’s third fastest junior 1500m runner and second on the UK under-17s all time list, even faster than Cram.

Yet there is more to Hussey than just the 1500m with the Leeds City Athletics Club runner competing at distances from 400m to 5000m and also number one European junior in both the 800m and 3000m as well as the 1500m. Some going for a late starter in the sport with Hussey’s first love being rugby.

Aged three, Hussey initially followed his dad Kevin into rugby union, at West Leeds and then West Park Bramhope before trying cross country at primary school.

“I think in my first one I was about 30th,” recalls the teenager. “Then throughout the season it was working down and I ended up finishing first.”

The only way was up, with Hussey now dreaming of topping the podium at Paris 2024 or even Los Angeles 2028 though unsure in quite what race.

“Going forward it’s quite hard to tell what my best event will be,” Hussey tells The Yorkshire Post.

“One of the things we concentrate on in training between me and my coach Andy Henderson is having a range so from 400m up to 5km.

“It’s just having somewhere to go and then just narrowing it down as I get older.

“Personally I prefer the 1500m though I couldn’t tell you why. It’s just something I have taken to and something I grasp the best really.”

Evidently – as a time 12 seconds faster than his nearest European rival indicates – in addition to faster times than a 17-year-old Cram at 800m, 1500m and 3000m. Hussey, though, who has won every major national title available to him for a third year in a row, is taking the weight of expectation in his stride.

“It’s just about staying level -headed about it,” said Hussey, reflecting on the comparisons with Cram.

“You’ve got to keep yourself grounded and know that you are still young.

“There’s a long way yet and I could peak at 27. That’s ten years away, that’s a long time and a lot of things can happen so you have always got to have somewhere to go to – an aim – and that’s the main thing we concentrate on in training with my coach.

“I expect highly of myself and if you are in the sport and not expecting that then something is wrong.

“You’ve got to expect the best out of yourself and you don’t do it to come second, you do it to get the best out of yourself.

“I am out to please myself. What is success to me? Being the best I can in winning. That’s what I want to do, I want to win, that’s what I enjoy.”

As far as 2020 is concerned, the win that would have mattered most would have been at July’s under-18s European Championships in Italy.

The event scheduled to take place in Rieti has been shelved due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and may or may not be re-arranged but in any event much loftier targets await further down the line.

Hussey explained: “This summer’s under-18s Europeans were the big aim in terms of short term plan – to go there and get the gold medal – but in the long term it’s just a little step forward. The big aim is the 2024 Olympics – Paris. It’s got to be that, I’ll be 21 or 22 so that’s the big aim.

“To get there would be amazing and I won’t be going to the Olympics just to run the Olympics, I will be going there to do the best I can and hopefully bring back a medal.”

Yet first and foremost, Hussey is also hoping to deliver strong grades on the education front in studying his A-Levels at St John Fisher’s Sixth Form in Harrogate with a particular interest in politics and economics. From Olympic champion to Prime Minster perhaps?

“I guess both can be done!” smiled Hussey.

“Now that would be versatile! I have always expected the most out of myself and I never wanted to be someone that put sport first. I always wanted everything to be on a par with each other. I wanted my education to be quite high so I push myself quite hard in my education as well.

“This year I have realised that one thing needs to give and it becomes a question of what am I going to pursue more and that will most probably be my running.

“School will have to take a step back but I will still have to do my best. Sport is a short career and you are always going to have to have something to fall back on because you never know what is around the corner. Touch wood, everything goes well.”

*Ethan is a Sportsshoes.com ambassador and all images are courtesy of Sportsshoes.com