Moulton man Callum Wilkinson's Tokyo Olympics performance cheered on by proud friends and family at village hall as he clinches top-10 finish
Friends, family, neighbours and interested members of the community crowded in to Moulton's village hall at around 8am today to watch one of it's own residents put on a strong showing in his debut Olympic appearance.
Callum Wilkinson, 24, had spent nine years training since he first took up competitive walking - a decision which culminated in his first Olympic appearance in the 20km race walk event in Tokyo.
50 competitors began the race at 8.30, with dozens of Moulton residents pulling up chairs in the village hall to watch the gruelling endurance walk.
Among them was a small group of friends and family wearing 'team Wilkinson' t-shirts, including his mentor Ron Wallwork and trainer Mick Graham.
Callum's supporters watched with delight as the former Bury St Edmunds King Edward VI School pupil made his way through the field to be the first Team GB competitor over the finish line by some distance, with struggling Tom Bosworth down in 25th.
Wilkinson, who grew up training on West Suffolk Leisure Centre’s track in Bury, crossed the line after 20 laps of the roads around Sapporo Odori Park in one hour, 22 minutes and 38 seconds. He was 1min 33secs behind Italy’s gold medallist Massimo Stano and nine seconds adrift of Sweden’s Perseus Karlstrom in ninth.
The ex-junior world champion, who came seventh in the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, had gone into the race targetting a top eight place but struggled to keep with the leading pack in the hot and humid conditions.
Commentating for the BBC's live red button coverage, 1984 Olympic 1500m silver medallist Steve Cram said as he crossed the line: “This is a very, very good performance from Callum Wilkinson.”