Tokyo Olympics: Callum Wilkinson and Tom Bosworth wilt in the heat of Sapporo

A TOP-TEN finish on your Olympic debut might satisfy most mere mortals but race walker Callum Wilkinson only gave himself a C grade for his efforts at Tokyo 2020.

Thursday, 5th August 2021, 5:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 5th August 2021, 5:37 pm
Hot: Callum Wilkinson of Team Great Britain competes in the Men's 20km Race Walk in Sapporo, Japan. (Picture: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

The 24-year-old, who studied event management at Leeds Beckett University, was competing in the men’s 20km race walk in Sapporo, with all race walk and marathon events moved from Tokyo to the supposedly cooler Japanese city.

The reality was still unbearably hot conditions for athletes and Wilkinson adjusted his tactics accordingly – setting off at a sensible pace, then steadily picking off those who had gone out too fast and were melting in the heat over the course of 20km.

It meant he climbed from 18th at halfway to tenth by the finish, in a time of 1:22.38 which was 1:33 behind the victorious Massimo Stano of Italy, but wasn’t entirely satisfied.

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Tom Bosworth of Team Great Britain competes in the Men's 20km Race Walk in Sapporo, Japan. (Picture: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

“My A-star goal would have been a medal – that’s the kind of racer that I am,” explained Wilkinson.

“That is always in my head so then top six was the A goal, top eight the B goal and then top 16 the C goal.

“So it’s good – I give myself a C at my first Olympics. It’s probably being very harsh on myself but I hold myself to high standards, so I’m happy even if it was my C goal for these Games.

“It’s all part of the progression. For me, 2024 in Paris, that’s the one.”

Wilkinson – who was a junior world champion in the 10km race walk – impressively outperformed fellow Brit Tom Bosworth, who could only come home 25th after finishing sixth in the same event at Rio 2016.

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