16th June 2022
UK Athletics Championships Memories - Tom Bosworth: My First UK Championship Title
Multiple British race-walking record holder, Tom Bosworth will be striving for an impressive eighth UK outdoor title at the Müller UK Athletics Championships in Manchester on the weekend of June 24-26.
Tackling the 5,000m walk event on his seasonal debut, Bosworth (Tonbridge AC, Andi Drake)’s appearance follows a fine 40:45.38 10,000m walk personal best in Finland earlier this month.
And with six British indoor crowns also to his name, the 2016 Olympic sixth-placer reflected on his very first national victory back in 2011:
My first UK outdoor victory…
My first British outdoor win came in 2011 in Birmingham on a warm summer’s afternoon, and it was the first time the breakthroughs started for me.
I broke the old 5000m race walk British record by six seconds (I think) with a new record time of 19:29. I was hoping to walk a low 20-minute time, but I really buzzed off the atmosphere. I’m a very excitable person so as the laps ticked by and the crowd cheered me on for the last lap, I was in shock to see the clock reading 19:29!
I leaped across the line and I think this really was the first time my finish line celebrations began and my eyes began to open what was possible if I keep working hard.
The rest of the season…
It was relatively quiet, given we have to compete over 20km internationally, I was still learning the art of that distance, so the 5000m at the UK champs wasn’t as meaningful for major championships.
I had competed at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi the year before and was so proud to make my first senior championships when I was only 20, but the world championships were just a bit too much of a step up at that point – the motivation it gave me to work hard through the winter, though was integral for my attempt to make London 2012 the following summer.
The Importance of the Championships…
As my career has progressed, I have felt the need to try and elevate and educate regarding my event of race walking. The Championships are so important as it puts race walking on show in front of a home crowd (which over the years I grew to love so much) but often when I first started winning, many would question or even criticise my event as people might see slow motion videos or pictures where the walkers would have both feet off the ground and the lack of understanding toward the event meant many of the athletes faced the same critique.
So as the years went on, not only did I want to win, as any athlete does, but also put on a show. Demonstrate good and fast race walking. I’d try and engage the crowds in the final lap to use that to push me round, usually to another British record. I think I broke the record four times over the last 10 years at the UK champs.
So that speaks for itself and how much I love a race on home turf. I always tried to stay and talk to those fans who wanted a picture or had a question and take the chance to thank them for being part of it each year.
Goals for Manchester…
The race walking event in the UK has changed a lot since my first win in 2011, we have such quality at the top end I couldn’t have dreamed it to go like this. Without having people to aim for, events can stagnate and I wanted to push the event on and make sure it stays there. I feel like I’ve done that now, as for people to win the British Champs, they’ll also need to be one of the best in the world.
So for Manchester of course I’d love to win, I stand a good chance, I have been recovering from back injections through the winter which meant it took away from my winter and was also a very slow recovery back to racing. But I had a successful 10,000m win in Finland recently which was the best I’ve felt for a couple of years.
So let’s see, I think walking another British record might be a stretch too far this year, but putting on a good show for the crowds and enjoying the experience is what I’ll be taking from it. As an athlete you never know when it might just be your last championships.
Get your tickets now for the 2022 Müller UK Athletics Championships Manchester!