Another teenage athlete from the Mansfield Harriers production line has outlined his lofty ambitions after making a successful international debut.
Middle-distance runner Luke Duffy was picked to represent his country for the first time when England took on Wales in an indoor match at Cardiff. And an impressive second place in the U20 1500m not only wowed the selectors, it also gave him a taste for more.
“It was a good experience and now I am hoping to qualify for the Commonwealth U18 Youth Games in the Bahamas in August,” said the 16-year-old. “It was a matter of introducing myself to the England coaches and making sure my name was on their radar.
“I was really motivated, and I probably did as well as could be expected, especially I had a bit of a cold in the days leading up to the event. Because it was indoors and the air was dry, it affected my breathing.
“My time of 4.01 minutes still made me the number one in the UK at U17 level, and I was only beaten by an England teammate, Ben Davies, who runs at U20 level. I need to get the qualifying time of 3.55 to stand a chance of going to the Bahamas. But I have already run 3.59 this season and I am confident I can do it.”
Luke, who lives in Nottingham and goes to Carlton le Willows Academy in Gedling, won his place on the England team after a scintillating victory in the National Indoor Age Group Championships. And this capped a string of progressive performances, both indoors and outdoors. Next on his schedule are the English Schools Cross-Country Championships at Norwich where a place in the top eight should earn him another England call-up.
Luke’s success certainly justifies a key decision he made after being lured to Harriers three years ago by one of their renowned coaches, Richard Massey. “I was playing football at a decent level for Long Eaton United,” said the amiable Luke, whose dad, Vince, was a talented footballer, well-known on the Nottinghamshire non-league circuit. “But it got to the stage where I had to choose football or running, and I thought I had more potential in athletics to become an international and travel the world.”
Travelling to the USA for a sports scholarship at a university is another of his ambitions once his GCSEs are out of the way this summer. Make no mistake about it, Luke Duffy’s athletics career is far from the finish line.