Heyward welcomes Cram and Coe comparisons

Heyward welcomes Cram and Coe comparisons
By Sportsbeat

10/01/2019 at 17:03Updated

Earning comparisons with the likes of Steve Cram and Seb Coe is no mean feat, but middle-distance specialist Jake Heyward is more than happy to indulge in the compliments.

Breaking onto the scene by clinching 1500m gold at the European Youth Championships in 2016 before adding a European Junior Championship crown to his list of honours a year later – Heyward has continued to defy expectations to standout as one of British athletics' hottest prospects.

The similarities with Britain's middle-distance royalty don't end there with the Welshman running the third-fastest 1500m by a British Under-20 to move above Olympic great Steve Cram in the all-time rankings.

Despite the link to the former world champion and 1984 Olympic silver medallist, Heyward is equally determined to forge a career on his own terms.

"It's a massive honour to be compared to people like Steve Cram, he's someone who achieved a lot in his career and he's definitely someone that I try and model myself off," he said.

"Seb Coe and Steve Ovett, the runners of that era, James [Thie] has talked about before in training and it's great to be mentioned alongside them for what I've done.

"At the same time, I've just stepped up from the junior ranks to the Under-23s and we all progress at different rates. Just because I ran a certain time at a certain age doesn't mean anything. I have to focus on working hard and hopefully progress at the same rate they did."

Juggling the weight of expectation of being a future Olympic prospect with a degree in accounting and finance at Cardiff University, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Heyward would be run off his feet.

But the 19-year-old has already targeted a spot in April's European Indoor Championships where he could face a showdown with reining European Champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen, a hotshot who scooped the medals despite being just 18 himself.

Heyward said: "Before Christmas, the aim was to qualify for the European Cross Country Championships which I did and moving into the indoor season, I'd love to be able to make the European Indoors team.

"I'm looking to put a couple of markers down and I have one eye on the European Indoor 1500m standard of 3:42.00, so I'll probably run a 1500m and a 3000m to see, but then for the outdoor season, European Under-23s is my main aim.

"Moving into the outdoor season, my big focus will be the European Under-23 Championships in Sweden, and also competing at the British Championships for the first time, also with an eye on the World Championships in Doha.

"I think I have to go for it in the 1500m. I think I can be competitive and it all comes down to the British Championships and the race itself. I feel that the standard is within my grasp now and I guess we'll see what happens."

Sportsbeat 2019