Breakthrough 2018 for Hadleigh athlete Clements
Kieran Clements surprised even himself as he ran a 10K just 17 seconds off the 2018 European Athletics Championships qualifying time, but now the sky is the limit.
The 24-year-old from Hadleigh has discovered a rich vein of form this season, after ‘putting his head down’ and dedicating himself to training and development as an athlete.
And it has quickly paid off, with the US Iona College graduate already competing against elite athletes and in top races.
The long distance track athlete – competing over 5,000m and 10,000m – has, for now, decided not to pursue the qualifying time for this year’s Europeans as he looks ahead to a longer term plan, with the British Championships at the end of the month in Birmingham.
He will first take part in a 1,500m BMC Gold Standard race in Watford on June 16, to ‘see how quickly I can go’.
He is aiming to one day achieve international success, with the ultimate goal to represent his country at the Europeans, Worlds and even Olympics.
But his commitment to a career in athletics hung in the balance just one year ago, after Clements graduated from the New York-based university last year – having been on a full track and field scholarship.
“You have to be really pro-active here, there’s very little support or advice from any official organisation for a developing athlete, and definitely not one that disappeared to America for years,” he said.
“I wouldn’t change my decision though, it was a no-brainer to go to the States, I got a free university education and was part of the fantastic American collegiate system.
“But I got back and all the support disappeared, and I found it hard to motivate myself with no funding or advice on which races I should enter.
“And then I picked up a stress fracture, so I started work instead.
“It was possibly the best thing I’ve ever done as I quickly realised what running meant to me, and how much I wanted to succeed. So I got back into training – and now I’m running really fast.”
The Barnet Harrier competed in the Ipswich Twilight 5K Road Race on May 12, finishing in fifth place in 14 minutes flat. But it was a disappointing result for Clements, who felt he could have won it.
“But it was also confirmation I could compete with the elite guys,” he said.
And his next event, the European 10,000m Cup in Highgate, saw him romp home in fourth place in the B race a personal best time of 28mins 37secs – just 17 seconds off the European Championships qualifying time.
He then followed it up with his best performance so far, a first place finish in the Watford BMC Grand Prix 5,000m event in 13.54.
“I’m in great form and want to see what I can achieve from here,” he said.
He is on the look out for sponsorship and, with a place secured at the televised British Championships, feels he can give great exposure to a company.