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Callum Wilkinson remains confident Olympic qualifying time will come despite last week's disappointment




It’s a matter of when and not if – that’s Callum Wilkinson’s attitude with regards to his bid to securing the Olympic qualifying time for this summer’s Games in Tokyo.

The Moulton race walker was bitterly disappointed with his performance in Friday’s British Olympic trials, which were held in Kew Gardens, London.

The 24-year-old may have triumphed by more than three minutes from second-placed Tom Bosworth, but he was 47 seconds outside the time of 82 minutes that would have rubber stamped his place on the Team GB plane.

Callum Wilkinson pictured after winning the British trials, only to miss out on the Olympic qualifying time. Picture: Mark Easton
Callum Wilkinson pictured after winning the British trials, only to miss out on the Olympic qualifying time. Picture: Mark Easton

However, having made some positive progress since linking up with Irish coach Rob Heffernan in 2019, Wilkinson remains confident he’ll get the job done.

“I’m still disappointed but I am starting to see the little bits of positives,” said the former Moulton Primary School pupil.

“There’s disappointment because the time doesn’t reflect the shape I’m in and it doesn’t show the hard work I’ve been putting into training.

“I strive for the best each and every day and that was a long way from it.

“The good thing about our sport is that you don’t have the time to sit around and lick your wounds.

“You can’t push yourself to your maximum day in, day out and feel sorry for yourself.

“You’re only as good as your last race but you are also not as bad as a bad performance. That’s a couple of sporting clichés, but it’s true. My last race before the trials, I broke the British 10K record.

“I’m my own harshest critic and while I know it’s great to win, it was an opportunity missed.

“All the training I’ve done is still there, it hasn’t gone to waste. I know the training I’ve done and it will come good for me soon, I’m sure of it.”

Wilkinson will now spend the next few weeks training at altitude overseas before going in search of the qualifying time again at the European Race Walking Team Championships on May 16.

The Podebrady course in the Czech Republic is one in which Wilkinson is well versed, and he is hoping that will work in his favour.

“This will be my third year as senior in the competition and it’s a very good standard,” added Wilkinson, who is also a former Bury St Edmunds schoolboy.

“It’s a course I know well and it’s a fast course, which will suit me.

“The field will be a competitive one and that should really help with the time.

“Before that it’s about getting back to the grind and another good block of training.

“I already feel in really good shape, but I should be even better after the next few weeks.”

Another factor that could potentially work in Wilkinson’s favour next month is the fact he will have some company out on the course.

He ploughed a lonely furrow on his way to victory at the trials, but having a group of competitors in and around him may prove to be a big help.

“You can get seven or eight, sometimes up to 12 or 15 in the lead pack,” he said. “You could almost fall asleep because you’re following someone else, chasing the body and pair of legs in front of you. That works to my strengths and I like that challenge.

“Mentally as well these things are easier with people around you.

“When you go running, cycling and walking, it’s so much easier with company and race walking is no different.”

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