Published: 13:27, 24 June 2021
| Updated: 13:29, 24 June 2021
Simon Coppard heads to the British Athletics Championships this weekend after a promising start to the season.
The 20-year-old Tonbridge AC member has taken nearly 30 seconds off his best time for the 1,500m, pushing him to the fringes of competing with the country’s best.
While this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo appear out of sight, Coppard is hoping the experience of competing at Manchester on Friday will stand him in good stead.
Coppard said: "I'm predominantly an 800m runner but I'm focusing more on the 1,500m this year.
"I didn't really have any expectations because I hadn't done many before.
“My PB going into the season was 4min 10sec but then I ran 3.43 so I'm two seconds outside the European under-23 qualifying time.
"After that race I got an invite to the Olympic trials which was really cool. If someone told me at the start of the year I'd get an invite to the 1,500m Olympic trials I would have laughed.”
Coppard, who is in his first year studying sport technology at Loughborough University, has taken advantage of the facilities available to him after a torrid run of injuries.
"I was injured for three years which meant I missed three seasons of outdoor track,” he added.
“I had a bad achilles injury so it was quite a struggle to get myself from that state back to where I am now but the uni has really helped me.
"Before I was injured I was on the radar for international selections, and I had the European under-18 qualifying time and I was ranked third in Europe.
"I've made a few changes since starting at Loughborough which have allowed me to stay injury free.
"The trials were postponed because of Covid last year but they are now taking place in Sport City in Manchester, just outside the Etihad stadium.
"To qualify I need to reach 3.35 so I’m still a bit off at the moment but hopefully by the next Olympic trials I should be able to reach that mark.”
The trials, which double up as the British Championships, start on Friday with the heats and the final is due to be held on Saturday.
Former Maidstone Grammar School student Coppard said: “The top two from the trial get selected but there are about 65 people who have been invited.
“I'm currently ranked in the mid-30s which as a 20-year-old is really positive considering those in front of me are professional athletes.
"I mostly aim to just get a lot of experience out of it so that when I come back for the trials next time I'll be in a better position."