From starting athletics in an attempt to stay healthy, to a Commonwealth Games silver medal, retiring-racewalker Tom Bosworth has been on quite the journey.
The Tonbridge AC star announced in July that he would be hanging up his shoes after the Games in Birmingham this summer, having first competed for his country in 2009.
But before the 32-year-old calls time on his glittering career, he is determined to atone for a “heart-breaking” performance at the Tokyo Olympics when he battles for a medal this Sunday.
“I started athletics for a bit of fun and to keep fit and healthy,” recalled Bosworth.
“It’s been a whirlwind and a privilege to have the team around me who have got me there.
“Without the team I have I would have quit the sport many, many years ago, maybe even after representing Great Britain for the first time in 2009, who knows?
“What I have said ever since I was young, was that I want to walk away from this sport still at my best, not still going and finishing 25th in Tokyo, which was heart-breaking because of where I was the year before. In my mind, a medal was really realistic.”
Though Bosworth was devastated by his second and final Olympic showing, he was not always destined to share the track with the world's best.
Bosworth joined Tonbridge AC aged 11, and in his words was “awful at everything” with a tally of three world records a world away.
But he revealed that there was no cunning secret to his success. It has instead been a case of one step at a time.
He added: “I don’t think I ever believed I would make it to a major championships, I never thought I would be good enough to do it as a job.
“For me, it was about this is what I’ve achieved this year and let’s take the next step.
“I think a lot of athletes just have the end goal in mind, and I think you’ll live a miserable life, I don’t think you’ll enjoy the process and you won’t acknowledge any of your achievements if you’re just focused on the end goal.
“I think that’s why I’ve had the longevity, because each time I’ve gone, ‘I don’t think I’ll achieve more than this but I’ll give it my best go,' and next year has always been all right!”
This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will comprise of over 400 athletes, and having secured his place on the squad, Bosworth is looking for medal success.
And with the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games set to inspire people and communities across the country, Bosworth hopes sharing his story will give others motivation to get involved in sport and turn their dreams into reality.
While going one better than the silver he picked up in Gold Coast in 2018 is Bosworth’s immediate aim, he laid out his ambitions for the future, too.
He is getting married to partner Harry in Yorkshire in the autumn, after which Bosworth intends to use what he’s learnt to help the next generation of athletes.
“What I’ve learnt with my unknown sport is that I had to think outside the box to get my name out there,” he said.
“That takes quite a lot of confidence, knowing the right people and having the right people around you and I think that’s where I can help with athletes, managing them as a person and their athletics career.
“I really want to help athletics and how the sport is presented at the highest level.”
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