Perse runner on track at star-studded US athletics event

Isaac Rothwell (Upper Sixth) relished the opportunity to share a track with the stars of athletics at a major indoor meet in the USA.

He was invited to compete in the junior boys’ international mile race at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston, having been the No 1 ranked U18 athlete in the UK for men’s 1,500m last year.

Held at the sportswear manufacturers’ own state-of-the-art track, the World Athletics Indoor Tour event featured many top international runners including Olympic silver and Commonwealth Games women’s 1,500m gold medallist Laura Muir and World men’s 200m champion Noah Lyles.

Isaac was amazed by the experience in what was both his first indoor and overseas event.

He said: “I was excited to be invited and a bit nervous. I thought it could be quite intimidating being at a huge meet like that, but I met loads of pros and they were all really relaxed.

“It was just a very calm atmosphere and I got to know the other people in my race so I was able to enjoy it.

“It was really cool because every athlete was staying in the same hotel and I spoke to a few people who are quite big names in the sport. It was reassuring seeing they’re just normal people.”

Isaac finished eighth in his race in a time of 4min 14.53sec, but although slightly disappointed, he was philosophical about his performance.

He said: “I wasn’t sure how it would go because it was my first time running indoors and it was against such a good field.

“It was probably not as good as I hoped it would be, but I’ve had a couple of tough months training-wise and with illness.

“My coach said the American runners were all at peak fitness at this point for the indoor track season and then they’ll rebuild into the summer, whereas I’ve been ill so training had been pretty inconsistent.

“I’d also been doing cross country training for a while and had only just tried to get back into track gears over the last couple of weeks.

“I knew before the race no matter how it went that I’d come away feeling quite motivated because the American high school level is a fair bit better than in Britain.

“In America, they put all their time into collegiate running and seeing people run that quickly at my age, I know what I’ve got to do if I want to compete with them.”

Isaac’s focus now turns to the outdoor season with his key aims being to earn a place in the Great Britain team for the European U20 Championships in Jerusalem in August and win the English schools title.

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