THE 153rd running of the weekly Parkrun 5k in Southwick won’t cause any ripples on the national athletics scene but locally it will be remembered for Alex Carter’s final appearance – and victory - before departing to America.
The 18-year-old from Winsley headed to Heathrow yesterday for the start of a new chapter of his life which will see Carter spend the next four years – and maybe five – on a full athletics scholarship at Iona University in New York State.
“I am really excited about it now and can’t wait to get there and start,” said Carter.
“It has come around so quickly since I accepted the offer and went over there and it is going to be a big challenge for me.
“But I think the change has come at a good time. I feel I have reached a point running-wise where all the older guys in my group have left for university so there is less competition for me.
“I need a change to stretch me so the timing is right.”
The full scholarship, in which Carter’s tuition, accommodation and food needs are all paid by Iona University, are a reward for the effort, dedication and success he has enjoyed as a young athlete under the guidance of coach Adrian Clover.
Three bronze medals at the National Cross Country Championships and also a third at the Inter-Counties Cross Country Champion-ships and English Schools plus numerous county and South West titles marked out Carter as one of the best young runners in Britain.
That brought the St Laurence School student to the attention of the American collegiate system and Carter received numerous offers to continue his athletics career and studies in the US before deciding on Iona which is just half an hour from downtown Manhattan.
“When I arrive there this weekend I am joining the team at a training camp for the first week which will be a great opportunity to meet everyone first before university starts,” added Carter.
“The coaches have told me that my mileage will be increased steadily which will be good and all the training is very structured and organised.
“They have some really good guys there including a Kenyan who has run 8mins 11secs for the 3000 steeplechase while Liam Dee (third fastest junior in the UK over 1500m) is also going over with me which should help.”
Carter has been ‘red-shirted’ for the first year meaning he is excluded from national collegiate competitions but ensuring, subject to fitness and form, he can return in November to England to compete in the trials for the European Cross Country Championships, for which he is still eligible for the under 20 age group.
That apart, Carter’s focus will now be solely on success in America and in attempting to make that leap from talented junior into the highly competitive senior ranks.
“I would not say I am nervous as, to be honest I am not sure what to expect having only spent 48 hours in America in my life,” added Carter.
“But it is definitely time for a change.”
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