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Wilkinson wants to make Commonwealth impact

HIGH HOPES: Callum Wilkinson
HIGH HOPES: Callum Wilkinson

He may not be able to force his way into medal contention, but Callum Wilkinson is determined to make an impression at the Commonwealth Games.

The Moulton race walker is one of 75 athletes selected to represent Team England at the Games, which are taking place at the Gold Coast, Australia.

Given that some of race walking’s biggest names will be on show, and coupled with the fact it will be Wilkinson’s first experience of a multi-sport event, it is not anticipated that a challenge for honours is in the offing.

However, it is not just about gaining experience for the World Under-20 champion, who is determined to not simply make up the numbers in the 20K contest.

“It would be great to set a new personal best, time-wise and be in the top half of the race,” said Wilkinson.

“It probably will not be a medal, but if I can finish in the top 10 or even top seven, that would be a great achievement.

“It is a new experience and there will be things to learn, but I also want to produce my best performance.

“I do not want this to be seen as a jolly or as a trip for some sight-seeing.

“I want people to see I went there as prepared as I could be and come back with a good result and something to be proud of when I look back.

“To travel to these sort of places is amazing, but it is very much business first.”

The 21-year-old is becoming attuned to life in the senior ranks, having competed at last year’s World Athletics Championships in London, where he crossed the line in 41st position from a field of 64 walkers.

And Wilkinson believes that outing on The Mall will hold him in good stead when he gears up on the start-line at the Currumbin Beachfront on April 8.

“In a way at the Worlds I was chucked in at the deep end a little bit,” he added.

“Being in London, it was a big home crowd and that was a real eye-opening experience. Had the race been elsewhere in the world it would not have been like that.

“I learned a lot about myself that day and a lot about race walking at the highest level, not just competing and training, but also from a mental point of view.

“You have to learn quickly at this level. I may only be 21, but you have to have a 27-year-old’s head on your shoulders.

“It is all about who can do the best on the day because all the training has been done at that point.

“If you are in the best shape and are injury free, that is all you can ask for. The rest comes down to staying focused on the job in hand.”

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