A GLORIOUS summer of British athletics and a first international call-up in five years has reignited Joe Dalgleish's Olympic ambitions.
The runner from Wotton-under-Edge raced against top professionals from all over the world when he finished 19th out of 100 runners in the Smarna Goro International Mountain 10k race in Slovenia in a time of 48:04.20 as a member of the England under-23 squad earlier this month.
The 21-year-old’s potential was clear when he won the under-17 Gloucestershire County and South West Schools’ Championship while he was a pupil at Katharine Lady Berkeley’s School, which saw him go on to wear the England vest for the only previous time at the English Schools’ Cross Country Championships.
He finished fifth in that race, which was won by London 2012 Olympian Ross Murray, while Tom Farrell finished just ahead of Dalgleish in fourth and only missed out on a place at the Games this year due to an untimely injury.
Dalgleish has been unable to make such rapid progress, but with the support of his Stroud & District AC coach Chris Frapwell, who helped Dan Robinson reach the Olympics in Athens and Beijing, he has found his focus again and is making strides to becoming a marathon runner.
And after being inspired further by London 2012, the Olympic dream is back in Dalgleish’s thoughts.
He said: “It was a lift and a drive seeing people I knew from the England Cross Country team. It made me want to be a runner even more.
“It is every athlete’s dream and I want to go there in the marathon.
“My coach thinks I can do it, but it’s a slow process. Life is too short not to give it a go. If it does work it will be brilliant.
“I would love to run well on the track because it’s a great feeling, but it’s something I’ve struggled on.
“Cross Country is always where I have had success and marathons are a good option for me so it’s something different to aim at.”
Dalgleish, who studies architecture at the University of West of England in Bristol, was delighted to pull on the England vest once again and his increased efforts in training over the past nine months were rewarded as he finished third of the England under-23 runners, despite suffering with a cold in the build-up to the event.
He said: “It was pretty amazing. It was a very good experience running against professionals.
“It’s always been my aim to run internationally and it always will be. I’ve had a few rubbish years, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
“If I’m honest my attitude at some points wasn’t great and going to university was a change of lifestyle so I was adjusting to that, but at the beginning of 2012 me and my coach sat down for a chat and there were a few things I wanted to do.
“I just needed a bit of luck and it was a nice surprise to get this vest.”
Dalgleish was also privileged to be one of the first athletes to compete at the Olympic Stadium in the BUCS Championships in May, which acted as a London 2012 test event. He finished sixth in his 5000m heat in a senior best time of 30:10.90.
He said: “That was a great experience. It didn’t go how I wanted but it was great to be there.”
Dalgleish is now looking forward to the European Cross Country Trial in Liverpool next month, where the top six under-23 runners qualify for the Championships in Budapest.