9th July 2018
FUTURES IN FOCUS - MARKHIM LONSDALE
For European Junior silver medallist and World Youth Championship finalist Markhim Lonsdale (coach: Keith Lonsdale, club: Crook), the prospect of claiming a medal at the World Junior Championships in Tampere, Finland, is one carrot dangling in front of him.
Lonsdale found himself pipped to gold last year in Grossetto, Italy, when he ran 1:48.82, controlling the race, only to be edged out right on the line.
He feels that the experience of the European Junior Championships was a huge learning curve for him and is something that he will take forward into the World Junior Championships this week, when he takes to the track for the first time on Friday.
“It was good and bad getting silver,” he assessed. “Bad because I got beaten to gold by 0.1, but it was good because the worst I wanted to happen didn’t happen. Everyone in that final wanted to win but I was going in as favourite and I had the blue bib on because I was the European leader, so there was more pressure. Coming second isn’t the worst I could’ve done looking back.
“The whole process I could take because I’ve been within the GB teams since I was a youth but I wasn’t really delivering when it came to championships, but to come away with a medal from the Europeans was special. I enjoyed the championships and I was proud of what I’d done, but everything is about learning and there’s always something to improve on.”
Lonsdale’s journey into the sport one of simple values. Living in the small town of Crook in the North East, he does not have a local track and as such, began running up the hills close to his house alongside his parents.
After beating them up one of the hills close to his house, Lonsdale’s father, now his coach, thought there was some potential within him and as such, entered him into a series of local events and he has blossomed from there.
The relationship between parent and coach is a tough one for Lonsdale to balance but adds that more often than not, it all works out perfectly.
“When I first started running I was nine-years-old, he recalled. “My parents used to run and they’d go for miles and miles. Crook is really small and me, my sister and my whole street of about 20 kids would follow my mum and dad on a bike and we’d follow them on their route.
“One day my dad said I wasn’t going to bike, I was going to run. I thought ‘alright, let’s do this’ and we ran up a hill near where I live that’s effectively a one mile uphill and I smashed my mum and dad.
“It made my dad realise that I had some talent. He’s always been into running, so he put me in a multi-event competition the next week and I came out with five gold medals and I’ve stuck to it from that day.
“It’s horrible having dad and coach combined,” he joked. “You can’t split the two. When we have a fallout it’s a bad fallout but when it’s good, it’s really good. As long as I know I’ve run well that’s the good thing and that’s the only pressure I feel.”
Lonsdale is a member of the British Athletics Futures Programme, which identifies and supports athletes who British Athletics believe have the chance to win medals at future World Championships, European Championships, Olympics and Paralympic Games.
Having the support from British Athletics has helped to turn Lonsdale’s life upside down, but admits when the call came to tell him he was on the programme, he missed it because it was an unknown number.
“It’s mad to be a part of. I didn’t know I’d got chosen for it. I think they tried ringing me at the start of the year but I missed the call and it was unknown number so I couldn’t ring them back. I got the email a week before the first meeting and it was like ‘oh right, best get a move on’.
“I’ve not been recognised before and so to be selected as part of the programme is a really good feeling.”
The Futures Programme also enabled the 800m specialist to go out to Potchefstroom, South Africa, with members of the World Class Programme earlier in the year, where he picked up a great number of methods to assist in his training.
He was working alongside the likes of Elliot Giles, Charles Da’Vall Grice and Eilish McColgan whilst in South Africa and hopes that he can use what he learnt there in Finland as he bids for gold on the international stage.
He said: “It was my first ever warm weather training that I’ve ever been on and I was there with the world class programme athletes so it was nice to experience the sorts of things that they do.
“I wouldn’t have got there in the first place if it wasn’t for the British Athletics Futures Programme. They’ve opened up options for me that I otherwise wouldn’t have had.
I’m based in Crook and I got put on the Futures Programme and all the facilities on the programme are based down south so they recommended that I came down to Loughborough for a week every month, so I’ve started doing that, making use of the gym and coaching expertise.
“It was full-time training, a lot of it. Normally I don’t train twice a day so they introduced me to that and training with the big boys to see if I could cope with them. It was great to do it. because I want to make athletics my career and that helps me to see what it takes to be the best.”