Local athlete Stuart King is gearing up for his big return day to the Sainsbury’s Indoor British Championships vowing not to make the same mistake as last year as he chases 1500m glory.
Former Mansfield Harrier King, who now competes for Heanor Running Club, has qualified for the big AAA’s indoors finals day at Sheffield’s English institute of Sport for the second successive year.
Up against the cream of the nation’s 1500m runners again, King, of Mansfield Woodhouse, intends to make his mark much earlier this time around.
“I learned a lot last year,” he said. “I went off a bit too slow in my heat. I tried to save a bit too much. This time I know what the pace is going to be and who I am up against. So I can prepare a bit more mentally.
“I am not just turning up. Now I have a bit of experience and know how I am going to plan it out.
“The people that went off fastest maintained that pace, they didn’t drop off like I thought they would and went through. It was too late for me when I started to make a move.
“This time I am going to be in the mix up there at the front and kick on towards the end. I hope I can get to that final and cause a few upsets.”
He added: “I just managed to scrape in last year.
“I will be up against the likes of Charlie Grice, who was a finalist in the Olympics. It should be a challenge but I am up for it.
“Last year I missed out on the final by a couple of losers’ spots. But this year my aim is to make the final and hopefully challenge for a medal. It’s a big shot but you never know.”
King made the required time as he finished fifth in the qualifier, also at the English Institute of Sport.
“Last year’s qualifying time was 3.55 and I eventually run 3.54 and a half,” he said. “This year that time wouldn’t have been good enough, the qualifying time was 3.54, but I got in by two seconds in 3.52.
“That was a personal best indoors, but a couple of seconds slower than my outdoors time. It is much harder to run indoors as it is a 200m track indoors as opposed to a 400m track outdoors. So you are running at a slant round the bend more often.”
King is very proud to be back at finals day, but just wishes he was able to still be flying the flag for Mansfield Harriers, having left them when they were forced to quit their Berry Hill Park home.
“They are definitely the two biggest days I have had in my career,” he said.
“I was selected for the Midlands a few times and twice went over to Antwerp in Belgium with them four or five years ago.
“But this is the British Championships and only the top 20 athletes in the country make it. To be ranked in there is quite an achievement.
“Mansfield Harriers are my hometown club and I started running for them when I was eight. But, after 17 years, I joined Heanor Running Club last year because of what had happened with the park and us being banned from using it.
“I had no choice but to choose another club to keep training and progressing. I always wanted to stay with Mansfield. But I had to think about myself and move on which was a bit of a shame.
“I still associate with Mansfield massively, though. I socialise with them and I go on a few runs with them.”