Amongst several British elite athletes that made their big breakthrough this season, Kyle Langford announced his arrival on the senior level after dominating his age group with wins at the European Junior Championships, and also bagging the senior British 800m national title.
His performances took everyone by surprise as Langford competed with the best in the business throughout the season, and achieved times that many doubted he was capable of producing: “I started my season pretty late because in my head I wanted to make Beijing although people laughed, and said it was unrealistic. No one really thought it would happen, but that was what we were peaking for, so we had to start the season really late.
“I started my season properly around British Championships, and I went into that as the seventh fastest, so I wasn’t even there to win but in my head I wanted to win. It was a completely different feeling winning it, and after I felt so overwhelmed.
“Running the time I did at the Anniversary Games (1:45) was absolutely brilliant. I definitely felt I was capable of it, or even better.”
Under the coaching guidance of George Harrison, the British Champion spoke of his current set-up, including his coaching dynamic, training group, and how it has helped him along: “George is a bit old school and takes me through that side of things while Tom Bedford takes me through the new school sessions. At the moment I’ve got a good group around me mixed of long-distance, speed endurance and up and coming guys, so it’s really good for me training in and around the guys. As much as I might be the fastest in there by around five seconds, I’m not leading the sessions. These guys are just as good as me.
“British Athletics has helped immensely. Their futures program is brilliant, and they have been funding me a lot getting me to Championships, getting me sorted out whenever I have little niggles, so they have been brilliant.
“My security firm back home funds me, and help my parents to come out to races a lot. NIKE also have done everything for me, so it’s a really nice little set-up at the moment, and I’m really enjoying my running.”
Proving that age is nothing but a number, he has held his own racing against the likes of David Rudisha and other world class senior elites. He commented on his ability to stay composed and deal with the anxieties that might come being a younger athlete: “I just really embrace running against the great guys. I know that I should be in and around these guys as they never finished more than a second and a half ahead of me in my more respectable races, so I believe I should be there.
“Surprisingly enough, I get more nervous at club races than in front of 50,000 people at the Olympic stadium. I find club races more worrying. When I was younger I used to be quite nervous so I never really liked big crowds, but as soon as I walk into the stadium, I just love it. I’m nervous at race time obviously, but I really love the atmosphere being in the stadium, and around these guys is just great.”
From Beijing and his other championships this season, Langford has taken onboard a few things which he will take into consideration for the future: “I’ve learnt so much this year. I think literally 80% of my races have been senior races and I’ve realised I’m not as strong. I’m good on the junior stage, but it’s hard when you get to the senior stage. They’re bigger, they’re stronger and everything happens a lot faster, but for me, this year has been just a massive learning curve.
“In Beijing I learnt more about the preparation beforehand, and being strict with myself.”
For aspiring elite athletes who are looking to make their breakthrough, he offered the following advice: “Be confident and don’t listen to people when they say it’s very unlikely, because you’ve got to make the unlikely likely.
“Train hard and don’t give up because I think even if you’re up and coming, everyone has their time, it’s just about when it will happen for you. I believe it could happen for anyone, you’ve just got to stick with it.
“Just stay humble, the nicer you stay to everybody, everyone will like you more for it.”
As for his 2016 aspirations, Langford stated: “The Olympics definitely. I want to be confident and make the final. It’s in everyone’s head that they want a medal. Everyone wants to go somewhere and win the race, it’s never not on someone’s mind but I definitely want to make the final.”
Facts about Kyle Langford
Interview by Marilyn Okoro
Feature & Photography by Stewart Davis