Wilson’s on the comeback trail

Michael Wilson.
Michael Wilson.
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SUNDERLAND Harrier Michael Wilson is battling back to fitness after three years of injury misery.

The 18-year-old, who briefly emerged from another enforced lay-off last summer to win the North East junior 800m title in a personal best of 1.53.58, has competed in two cross country events this winter with satisfactory results.

In the Durham Cathedral relays in January and Saturday’s Royal Signals North East Road Relays at Hetton, his performances suggested that he is back on track again, after being on the sidelines for another seven months.

The Seaham athlete said: “I wasn’t too happy with my run at Hetton, as I slowed on the last lap. But I’ve only had been back in training a couple of weeks after going down with a virus the day after the Durham relays.

“But the main thing is that I am having no problems with my ankle and Achilles, which have been troubling me for years.’’

Wilson, under the guidance of his coach Ken Jefferson, has reorganised his training to accommodate the problems he has been experiencing.

He only runs 30 miles each week, mostly on grass, with his longest run of eight to ten miles done each Sunday. Two days are spent in the gym at Gateshead Stadium, doing strength and conditioning work under a sprints coach.

He added: “Hopefully over time, once I build on my confidence, my training will become more intense. But at the moment, I’m just taking it one step at a time.” Wilson surprised many by his performance in the North East Championship last year, winning the junior title and achieving a personal best in only his second race in six months.

Jefferson explained: “Michael is not the sort of athlete that stands idly by when he is out injured. He spends a lot of time in the swimming pool doing aqua jogging and other non- weight bearing exercises to help maintain his fitness.”

As he is now back in competitive mode, the St Aidan’s A-level student has targeted the senior 800m in the English Schools’ Championship at Birmingham on the 11/12th July.

He will be hoping for better luck than last year, when he took a tumble just inches from the finish when in a final qualifying position in his heat. But he has tasted English Schools’ glory previously, winning the bronze medal as an under-15 in 2.02.07.

As Wilson prepares for his big challenge, he will finish his winter season by running a couple of road relays, at the Northern 12-stage at Manchester on March 15 and the Elswick Good Friday event. He will also slot in the Wallsend Segedunum 5k on March 31. Then in May he will defend his North East junior 800m title at Gateshead and look to the rest of the season championship races and improvement in his time over two laps.

H The Saucony English National Cross Country Championships takes place at Wollaton Park, Nottingham, for the first time on Saturday. Entries are over 7700 for the 10 races, an increase of 2000 on last year’s event at Herrington Country Park, Sunderland. The senior women’s entry is particularly good with 1276 entered, one of the best entries since the turn of the century. In the junior men’s race Michael Callegari and former Sunderland Harrier Weynay Ghebresilasi, the silver and bronze medallist respectively in that event last year, are entered again, so an interesting tussle for the title could develop. The terrain is undulating and has several hills on each lap with the surface either rough grass or parkland. The Wollaton Park course has absorbed all the rain that has fallen.

H Houghton Harriers had three winners in the North East Indoors Championships at Gateshead. They were Ben Mitchell with first place in the under-17 shot (11.55) and third place in the long jump (5.35). Phillipa Ellis with gold in the under-13 girls long jump (3.92) and Adam Page the winner of the under-17 pole vault (2.03).

Sunderland Harrier Logan Powell was third in the under-17 100m (7.48).