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bosworth is walking the walk

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Tom Bosworth

18 February 2015

After a 2014 season which brought a national record and a call-up to a maiden GB & NI senior team, 2015 has started in fine style for Tom Bosworth who was crowned Sainsbury’s Indoor 3000m walk British champion last weekend. The Leeds-based athlete is aiming to be a pioneer for race walking in the UK and is targeting further success over the coming years.

Bosworth, originally from Kent, is now based at the UK National Race Walking Centre in Leeds where he trains daily. The 25 year-old was thrilled to get the chance to showcase race walking to the vocal indoor crowd at the EIS over Valentine’s weekend, and hopes to raise the profile of the event over the next few years.

Although he usually competes over longer distances, Bosworth faced a relative sprint in Sheffield. However, he was delighted to secure the victory clocking a time of 11:30.35, and enjoyed his celebrations over the line.

“It was a great experience to race in front of a packed crowd indoors which is a novelty for a walker. It was great to be included into the British Championships and it is a great confidence booster going into the longer distances.

“Having that race indoors, we really connected with the crowd and we all got to see race walking at its best in this country.”

In addition to Bosworth’s victory in the men’s race, the women’s race saw an impressive British junior record set by Leicester’s Emma Achurch of 13:29.19. At just 17 years old, the young athlete has plenty of years to improve and Bosworth says she is just one of a growing list of youngsters who are coming through on the domestic level in race walking.

“The quality is getting better at the senior level – you look at Jo Atkinson’s achievements (2010 women’s Commonwealth 20km gold medallist) and myself, and these guys have something to aspire to on a national level. There is a great group of guys and girls coming through which can only be good for the future.”

Bosworth is a leading figurehead of race walking in this country after his exploits in Zurich at the European Championships last summer. Preceding the Championships, he had already broken the 5km walk British record at the Sainsbury’s British Championships at the Alexander Stadium with a time of 19:16. This form guided him to a 12th place finish over the 20km distance in Switzerland which the Leeds Beckett student admits was a huge surprise.

“It was amazing to finally reach my first major championships and such a relief after pushing for it for so long. I could have gone there and had a bad race because of the nerves but I took it in my stride and completely overachieved.  I thought I would finish around 20th position but I managed to finish in 12th.

“European race walking is so strong – it is almost as good as the world level. I know I can go into the World Championships (in Beijing) this year and be competitive.”

Bosworth has been competing in athletics for twelve years and professionally race walking since 2009. He is aiming high this year but also realises he has a responsibility for the event and hopes his progress will help his fellow athletes.

“Now I’m setting records I feel that because I’m going fast, I’m setting something for all the young guys to aim for. Eventually it will move the event on and the quality will be very high.”

Speaking of records, one time that is on Bosworth’s mind this year is 82:03. This is the British record for the 20km walk which is held by Ian Mccombie, set twenty-six years ago at the Seoul Olympic Games. With Bosworth only seventeen seconds outside this time, he has his eye on breaking that long-standing record in 2015.

“I’m only seventeen seconds away, that’s nothing. With the form I am in, the record should go without a doubt, I’m pretty confident saying that. My fitness is proving that that record is in danger. It would be a huge achievement for whoever does break it.”

The Andi Drake coached-athlete has recently returned from a successful training camp in Alicante, Spain, and this encouraging block of training has given Bosworth the confidence to target this national record and a high placing at the IAAF World Championships in China.

“The training went perfectly out there, it couldn’t have gone better. My training partners were brilliant and we were joined by some other international athletes from Finland. There was no snow or ice which made life a bit easier, so it was nice to train in the sun. It went well and I think the race in Sheffield represented that, so it’s great that British Athletics made the trip happen for me.”

He will have his first attempt at the 20km distance in March next month at the Lugano Trophy in Switzerland with his eye on the qualifying standard for Beijing.

“Hopefully I will get a qualifying time for the Worlds there. I’ve got three qualifying times already which is a good position to be in. I just have to show I am in form ahead of the championships.”

It is back to work for the British athlete over the next few weeks as he prepares for his Swiss trip. Speaking to Bosworth, it is striking to hear his enthusiasm for his training group and his passion for the sport. This can only bode well for his future endeavours.

“It’s brilliant to meet up with a coach everyday – how many people can say they have that every day, twice a day? I have great facilities around me and a fantastic group. At the moment I’m the fastest in the group and I’m training on my own but it’s great to meet up with everyone and they encourage me and I encourage them.

“I surround myself in the correct athlete lifestyle. I love athletics and been a full-time athlete. The longer I can do that, the better.”

You can follow Tom’s journey via Twitter @TomBosworth and on his website www.tombosworth.com