20th March 2014

The Teesside Tornado

A month ago Richard Kilty was virtually an unknown quantity; selected only to replace an injured James Dasaolu in the GB &NI team for the IAAF World Indoor Championships. Fast forward three weeks and the 24 year old from Stockton-On-Tees became a global sprint sensation when he stormed to victory in the 60m final in Sopot.  

Clocking a blistering 6.49 seconds, which shaved three hundredths off his previous best set earlier in the day in the semi-finals, Kilty out-ran his international rivals, stealing all the limelight and a treasured world title.

Of his new-found fame, Kilty commented:

“It’s been a bit crazy actually. I’ve had so many interviews and people wanting to talk to me back home and it’s so strange – I’ve never had anything like this before. Now I’m getting so many more followers on Twitter, everybody’s sending me congratulations and the media have also been contacting me a lot which is strange!”

Prior to his international breakthrough in Poland, Kilty’s most noteworthy performance was his 10.10 clocking over the 100m in 2013. Despite that, he openly admitted that his most recent accolade came as somewhat of a shock.

“Two weeks ago nobody was talking about me in the build-up and I think I was only ranked eighth or ninth going into it. So people probably knew I had potential to make the final, but maybe not much further.

“Now suddenly all the attention’s on me and it feels good. It’s indescribable to know that on the day, the only day that matters, you’ve come out on top.

“To be crowned world champion and be standing on the top of that podium was the best feeling ever.”

Named on the 2013/14  World Class Performance Plan, the 2013 British outdoor 200m silver medallist is now benefitting from an extensive support team, to which he credits his turn of form.

“It’s been great – I’ve never had this sort of attention in my athletics career. I’m getting physio, I’m getting access to doctors – everyone at British Athletics. It’s great to have a team behind me and helping me move forward”.

Kilty has also relocated to the High Performance Centre in Loughborough and switched coaches, now  operating under the watchful eye of British Athletics sprint coach Rana Reider.

“Obviously Rana’s amazing – he’s completely changed my technique and re-filled me with confidence, so the whole set up including being part of funding has helped me massively. It’s pretty tiring at the minute, but I enjoy it!”

Despite his relocation and his new found support structure, Kilty recognises the most important person in his career to date comes from a little closer to home.

“My Dad’s probably the biggest influence; I think everybody would say their parents. We’d all struggle without their help, especially when we’re young because they’re the people who fund it until you can get on your own feet”.

When asked who his childhood heroes were, the Teesside Tornado responed:

“When I was young I looked up to the likes of Maurice Greene and Linford Christie. Even Dwain Chambers. I always used to watch him so it was an honour to race him in the final.”

But now Kilty’s name sits alongside his idols in the history, something which he always hoped his journey would lead to.

“Since I was a kid I always knew I could run quickly and I set my sights on being the best in the world. But throughout it all you have your ups and downs and you have doubts and start to think whether you believe you can do it. But to come out in the end and actually become world champion, it’s a dream come true”.

Now in the position to pass on his advice to the next crop of aspiring young athletes, he cites the challenges he’s faced throughout his athletics career.

“Whatever hurdles come in your way, because there will be hurdles and there will be ups and downs to overcome, never lose sight of your dreams and always keep them in front of you no matter what.

“As long as you stay dedicated, work hard and don’t lose hope, and obviously if all goes well you stay injury free. I think sometimes a bit of luck can come along but I think you can create your own luck and knock all those barriers out of the way.  Don’t lose track of why you started and what your dream is and aim everything towards that.”