Tom Walker’s athletics season has continued to get better, taking out the 17-20 year old School Sport Victoria State Cross Country Championships at Bundoora Park.
The year-11 Stawell Secondary College student edged out 82 competitors to finish the 5 kilometre race in 14.07 minutes, six seconds quicker than his nearest competitor.
The 16-year-old had finished second for the last two years in younger age groups.
Walker said he did not have high expectations heading into the race, only his second cross country for the season.
“Going into it I wasn’t expecting too much,” he said.
“I was quite surprised to be able to win it. I was bottom age so I was racing kids older than me.
“I was really happy with my run to be able to beat those older guys.”
The victory came three weeks after Walker competed in the All School Cross Country Championships.
Walker finished sixth in the under 18 division against some of the best young runners in the state.
His recent success has seen him qualify for the Under 18 male Victorian team to compete at the Australian Cross Country Championships to be held on Saturday, August 26 at Kembla Joggers Cross Country Park, Wollongong, NSW.
“I am stoked to be able to head off to Wollongong,” Walker said.
“I have been working hard to make sure I am fresh and that there is speed in my legs for the nationals.”
Walker has had a whirlwind 2017, taking out the 1600m backmarkers handicap at this year’s Stawell Gift.
The student said he believes his success is a reward of his hard work.
“It is a reflection of where my season has come from,” he said.
“I had a good end to the season last year and have kept going since.
“I had a bit of time off after Easter before getting back into training, which has held me in good stead.
Walker continues to run at Stawell Amateur Athletic Club events, which he said provides a good opportunity for him to learn.
“It is a great group of people there and I love running with the oldies,” he said.
“Being young I take on all the advice that they pass on.
“It is a good opportunity for me to keep working on my routine.
“I am able to set benchmarks for myself to keep trying to beat.”
Following the national championships in August, Walker will begin work towards the track and field season across the summer.
“I love the track and field season,” he said.
“I also can’t wait to get to race at Stawell at the Gift again next year.”
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