JOHN Howorth was hoping to make a big statement in his first race of the season but not in his wildest dreams did he imagine this scenario.

The 21-year-old from Hilperton not only broke 3minutes 50seconds for the first time in the British Milers Club Gold Standard meeting at Birmingham University but totally smashed his personal best by a staggering seven seconds with a sizzling 3mins 44.53secs.

To underline the quality of that run, it immediately put Howorth top of the South West Rankings for the 2021 outdoor season and was well inside the qualifying standard of 3mins 47secs to gain an invite for the UK Championships, incorporating the trials for the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“I’m absolutely buzzing still,” said a delighted Howorth.

“It was well beyond what I through I was capable of at this moment. To be honest my preparation had been okay, but having come home over Easter for a few weeks (Howorth is a student at Cardiff Met University) I hadn’t been on the track very much, which isn’t ideal.

“I had been doing a lot of strength work and running tempo around the country lanes at home in Wiltshire. But I entered the race to start the season and thought that if I could break 3mins 50secs that would be a good start to the summer. But to knock off seven seconds is ridiculous!”

That modest ambition and a more cautious race approach encouraged by his coach James Thie saw Howorth temper his normal inclination to go out very fast and with 500 metres remaining he wasn’t even in the top ten.

“James had told me to stay relax for the first 1k and then start working the race for the final 500 metres,” added Howorth.

“By the bell, which I reached in 2mins 49secs, I had moved into the top ten and felt really good at that point. I kept overtaking people and suddenly realised I could do something special, maybe even win it.”

Howorth unleashed a terrific last lap of 55 seconds to seal that massive breakthrough and secure second place, just 0.1secs behind winner Mark Pearce.

To complete a good day for the Howorths twin brother Robert notched up his second PB of the season with 3:52.19 in 11th place, easily beating his 3:56.94 which he ran on his 21st birthday last month. That puts Robert fifth in the South West Rankings this summer having not broken four minutes until this year.

Likewise, John will be hoping he can go even faster in his next race, which looks like being the fiercely competitive BMC Grand Prix event in Manchester on Saturday week.

“I definitely feel there is more to come,” stressed Howorth.

“I probably can’t go much quicker than a 54/55 seconds for the final lap so I need to improve the first 800m and open up a little quicker so that’s what I’ll be looking at for Manchester which is sure to be a quality race.”