Max Burgin backed for Olympic progression by Seoul silver medallist Peter Elliott
On the same day, a Yorkshireman was running the race of his life at the Olympic Games in Seoul, throwing leg after leg forward as he claimed the 1,500m silver medal that would come to define him.
No one knows yet what will replace these epitaphs of modern human existence on Saturday 10 August 2024. But there is an outside chance that another Yorkshireman may burn his name into Olympic memory before the eyes of millions – this time over 800m.
He is 21-year-old University of Leeds undergraduate Max Burgin, who has been tipped by Rotherham-born former World Champion Peter Elliott MBE to reach the dizzy heights of the podium in the not-too-distant future.
Burgin is no ordinary athlete. Hailing from Halifax, the young man has burst onto the scene with an array of dazzling performances on the track – one of which made him the third fastest 800m runner in 2022 with a time of 1:43.52.
Two years on from that outstanding performance, the history student could land himself on the biggest podium of all in Paris.
Elliott, for one, is a big fan. “I’ve been keeping a very close eye on Max Burgin,” Elliott told The Yorkshire Post.
“With Max, I think he’s just such a prestigious talent and he is definitely somebody we’ll see on a podium.”
Whether he does so next year, at the 2025 World Athletics Championships in Tokyo, or at the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles remains to be seen. A big boost, however, is the young man’s selection alongside 67 other athletes by UK Athletics as part of its 2023/2024 Olympics World Class Programme.
As part of his National Lottery-funded support – for which Burgin was placed at the lower Olympic Confirmation level – the West Yorkshire-based runner will be targeted for “medal success” at both the Olympics and World Championships.
Elliott believes the initiative’s provision of access to sports science advice, financial support, and other such assistance will be key to Burgin’s potential development.
“It’s great to see Yorkshire athletes coming through. That funding is important to athletes and it’s great that some of them will get some funding,” he added.
“I think the most important thing for those with podium potential like Max is the access to sport science support that is there.”
Burgin’s passion for running began while at primary school, where he chose to run for hometown club Halifax Harriers – a decision made easier by the presence of his grandfather Brian as a coach there.
After a brief period away from Spring Hall Sports Ground due to growing pains, Burgin returned and immediately made the decision to stick with the 800m category for which he is naturally adept.
His rapid development on theinternational stage was highlighted in 2022 when a race in Finland resulted in Burgin briefly becoming the quickest 800m runner in the world.
As a result, many placed great expectations on the young man’s shoulders for the following World Championships in Eugene.
Such anticipation crumbled when the inset of deep vein thrombosis in his calf – a genetic condition since discovered to have been inherited from his mother – took place during his flight to Oregon. Burgin’s bags remained unpacked, and he was unable to compete.
Fresh hope for success arrived this year, however, as the middle-distance runner smashed his opposition out of the park by finishing first at a London Athletics meet in July before jetting off to Budapest for the 2023 World Athletics Championships.
This time, Burgin made it onto the track as he impressively reached the semi-final stage in both the 800m and 400m categories.
Despite such achievements, it is thought that there is much to come from the young man who has been compared to British great Seb Coe due to his distinctive style of running as pack leader.
One hinderance to his efforts has been a troubling injury record. Last season saw Burgin pained by a persistent Achilles problem.
It is not as though Burgin is unused to pain. At the UK Championships in July, he collapsed on the finish line and was subsequently carried out by medics.
In his own words, the 800m category is currently quite “open”. If Burgin can muster up a run of form and sturdy health, there is no reason why another Yorkshireman could not fly high under those Olympic rings.