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Jack Crosby - the local lad

Jack Crosby in the heats of the IAAF World Junior Championships (Photo: @AthleticsDrLeon via Twitter)

Jack Crosby in the heats of the IAAF World Junior Championships (Photo: @AthleticsDrLeon via Twitter)

Right now, some of the best young athletes are in Eugene, competing in the World Junior Championships.

It’s a chance to see some of the top crop of up and coming athletes go head-to-head with each other, a battle of the best.

One of those athletes, is Jack Crosby who finished fifth with a time of 46.63 in the men's 400m final.

In a former life, the young man from Middlesbrough could have been playing on grass, not the track - football was the calling. But like British sprinting sensation Adam Gemili, the attraction to athletics kindled a spark and after four years, his reward? A place in the World Junior Championships in the 400m to represent his country.

“It’s a great feeling knowing that I am able to represent the nation in a sport I love,” he said after finding out about his selection. “It’s a massive privilege to be able to once again wear that Great Britain vest and be amongst such prestigious athletes heading to the States.

“Being selected for the World Championship was very overwhelming. It is brilliant to know that dreams can come true as long as you put the graft in! I can’t wait to step foot on the track in Eugene and hear the gun go off and the roar of the crowd.”

Already, he owns a Great Britain vest after representing them at the Loughborough International Games back in May, where he ran the qualifier needed to go to America and a then personal best of 46.57.

Some would say that picking up their first senior international would be a memory to treasure, others would say wearing it at a world class competition would better it, for Jack, it was more so the emotion and reward of the hard work that he put in.

He said; “I can’t really compare them as both selections are completely different to me. The emotions I experienced when I first got the call for the Loughborough International Games were pure ecstasy.

“The first time I wore the vest I felt very emotional as I had ran many hard yards throughout winter to put myself in a position to be selected to represent Great Britain and now it was happening.”

But it nearly could have been over before it really began for the 19-year-old when starting in athletics, he endured a tough start in the sport. Local coaches waved away taking him on, some feared his personality it appeared.

Some athletes would have walked away, others would have went into the darker aspects of life, but Rick Betts seen something and invited him to join his group. He deserves most of the praise, along with Jack, with how he’s helped matured his running and not rushed his development, the time he has spent working is paying off, and paying off big time.

It’s almost along the lines of Rocky, going from a rough start to beginning to shine and making a name from himself, not only locally, but now nationally. It’s a story that runs similar to a Teesside Tornado named Richard Kilty, who endured a tough 2012 but is now the World Indoor Champion.

“I ended up in Rick’s group roughly four-years ago as no other coach at my local track was willing to take me on as I was a rough kid from a council estate. I wasn’t the best kid, probably due to my rough past,” he said.

“When I first met Rick at 15, I smoked and drank and had little interest in school or self-development. Rick got me to do a 300 meter time trial against some other athletes in his group and I won it comfortably. He was very impressed considering I stank of cigarette smoke.

“Rick told me I had an immense talent and if I was willing to stop fooling around and commit to the sport, I could completely transform my life for the better as I was headed down a dead end path.

“Rick, in a way, has brought me up, taught me right from wrong and prevented me from being led astray. He is like a second father. Rick and my Grandfather couldn’t have done more for me and without them, I definitely wouldn’t have the privilege to be on that plane.”

It’s clear to see that there is a strong bond between athlete and coach, the honesty from Jack is something that you rarely hear and it’s different, a good different. It shows that there is hunger in his camp that he wants to show the athletics world what he can do.

Right now, the North East of England are really thriving with their athletes. Richard Kilty - the 60m World Indoor Champion, Niall Flannery - five time BUCS champion, Laura Weightman – British Champion and Aly Dixon, who was picked to represent England at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, as well as Olympians Ross Murray and Chris Tomlinson, the list could go on and he has the potential to join them in the future.

The fact is, this will be the start of a bright future for the young man. He will learn from this competition, so will his coach. What was really impressive, was his quote for when he was asked his goal for Eugene.

“I want to get to the final of the world championships. That was always the plan. I firmly believe that anything is possible in a final and if you’re willing to fight in the home straight, miracles have been known to happen.”

Be sure to follow Jack’s progress on his twitter page @jackcrosby95 

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