Sam Reardon’s UK Championship success surprised him almost as much as anyone else.
The Beckenham runner fended off competition from more experienced and specialist 400m athletes to claim gold over the distance at the UK Athletics Indoor Championships in Birmingham last month, his maiden senior domestic title.
It took most athletics fans by surprise, especially considering that Reardon had initially planned to compete in a different event altogether.
“We weren’t really originally going to run the 400m there, we were going to run the 800m,” said Reardon, who is being supported by Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) through SportsAid this year.
“That was initially my main indoor target, to qualify for the European Indoors in the 800m, but we had a few races before that were a bit more complicated so we decided to switch races.
“I wanted to make the final to try and make the relay team for the European Indoors in Turkey and then got to the final, raced with no expectations, and came out with a win. It was a highlight of the indoors!
“I knew that going into the final that I wasn’t going to be with them at the bell, I was going to be a bit off the pace through 200, but I knew I had 800m strength at the end to come through and take it.
“I thought that if I was in contention with around 100m to go I could outkick them potentially. Coming off the bend I felt good, I felt comfortable and I could see that the leader was struggling a bit.
“I thought ‘here’s my chance’, used him as a target, kept my form all the way to the line and came through strong.”
Reardon was announced as part of RBC’s ‘Class of 2023’ at a welcome reception in London last week. He is one of 50 athletes, across 34 sporting disciplines, to have received an award contributing towards costs such as travel, accommodation and equipment.
RBC and SportsAid are celebrating 10 years of partnership in 2023 with over £1 million of support, including more than £325,000 raised by employees, provided to the charity over the course of the last decade.
Reardon did go to the European Athletics Indoor Championships as part of Britain’s men’s 4x400m relay squad, finishing in sixth place.
It was far from the result that the team wanted despite being underdogs against stronger opposition, though Reardon is still brimming with confidence ahead of what could be a breakthrough summer.
He added: “I’ve learnt that no matter how much more experience athletes have over me, don’t take it for granted that I don’t have that level of experience – I can go there, run with freedom and no expectations. I’m using that mindset and taking that into the outdoor season, hopefully it’ll get me some good results.
“My main target is the European U23 championships in Finland. I want to go for the 800m and the 4x400m as well – that’s in July.
“Coming off that we’ve got British Champs and the World Athletics Championships in Budapest. I want to try and make a relay squad there – my main aim is the European U23s, but Budapest would just top it off.”
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