Oliver to live the American dream

Oliver James.
Oliver James.
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SUNDERLAND Harrier Oliver James will say goodbye to his clubmates when he jets off for pastures new in August.

The 19-year-old middle distance runner has been offered an athletics scholarship at Iowa State University in the States.

“I’m really looking forward to going out there. I can’t wait. It is a massive opportunity and will be a great experience,’’ said the Tunstall athlete.

At Iowa he will study pre-med biology with the intention to qualify as a doctor of medicine. The course is for four years with the option to increase it to seven.

He had a number of offers, but decided on Iowa as the course suited him and it is renowned for its athletics and superb facilities.

He added: “I had telephone interviews with various universities and Iowa stood out from the rest in both athletics and academia. They have a reputation of attracting world class athletes and they are one of America’s big 12 champions.

“They have a 400m track, 300m indoor track and all the facilities and coaches you need to improve your athletics ability.

“The university is situated in the mid-west where they have very cold winters and hot summers. I would be hoping by next year that I would be getting my PBs down for 1500m to around 3.45 and 800m to 1.50.

“The university even stated they would fly me back for the European cross country trials at Liverpool in November. I just missed out on the World Championship team by five places in March at Birmingham.’’

James was the most improved junior North East athlete over the country during the winter and his ambition is to represent GB in the European Championships this year.

His early season track form has seen him win the British Colleges 800m championship in horrendous conditions at Gateshead, recording 2.01.33.

Then, last Saturday, he clocked a PB for 1500m (3.56.63) in a British Milers’ Club meeting at Solihull.

This weekend he will clash with his clubmate Michael Wilson in the North East junior 800m at Gateshead. The St Aidan’s pupil recorded a PB for 800m (1.55.6) in last week’s North Eastern Grand Prix at Jarrow.

The North East championship starts at 10am on Saturday and 11.00am on Sunday.

H Only 50 places remain in the Durham Coast multi terrain half marathon from Seaham to Crimdon Dene on Sunday, June 9. The race has a maximum entry of 250. You can enter via the Run Britain website.

H Sunderland and Houghton Harriers had two winners each in the North East Veterans League at Monkton.

Houghton’s Steve Todner won the M55 400m (61.9) and Liz Page took the W50 long jump (1.10). Sunderland winners were Sandra Jackson in the W40 100m (14.4) and Peter Richardson in the M60 400m (72.5).

H Tonight sees the Clive Cookson Cup 10k at Monkseaton. Entries are available on the night. The 5k starts at 6.30 and the 10k at 7.15. The race headquarters is at Monkseaton High School, Seatonville Road, Whitley Bay. T-shirt for all 10k finishers.