Richard Kilty

Week 25 (7 - 14 March 2014)

In 6.49 seconds, the unheralded and almost unheard of Richard Kilty became the 60m world indoor champion this week in Poland and his turbo-charged dash for gold underlined one of running’s great appeals: you can let your legs do the talking.

Not that Briton Kilty relied solely on his legs: his detailed, emotional and inspiring post-victory interviews were an added bonus.

 

But in those 6.49 seconds Kilty told everyone within British athletics that they were wrong about him; wrong to overlook him for 200m selection at London 2012 and wrong to write him off as a talent that wouldn’t make it.

Kilty’s gold medal in Sopot may have been a cathartic personal response to his detractors but it was a brief one. In the aftermath of his victory, the 24-year-old was more concerned with talking about how his success could motivate other young people in England’s North-East to achieve their potential.

"It's been a crazy journey,” Kilty told the BBC in the days following his win.

“I actually won my first national title whilst living in a homeless hostel (when he was 12). That was with my parents and four siblings, all sharing one bedroom and there was all sorts going on in that hostel. Things were really tough.

"When I was younger we had a lot of struggles and moved to a lot of different council estates. I just hope I can motivate people on Teesside.

"No matter your background, if you're willing to never take no for an answer and give things a shot, you can achieve your dreams.

"For the last few years all I have done is get slated by the media and people in my home country.

"I considered quitting because I had no income and had to train on the road in trainers. I couldn't afford to get to the track. Nobody's had it harder than me last year.

"Thankfully my dad Kevin persuaded me I had the talent and told me to give it another year, and this is for him and all my fans and supporters."

Kilty’s personal journey is also an example of the egalitarian nature of running. Anyone can try it and training can be done with very little equipment; Kilty himself took to sprinting along the banks of the Tees Barrage when track time couldn’t be secured.

Running consistently throws up tales of the remarkable and with stars like Kilty keen to use their media platform to convey positive messages, its inspiration factor is unlikely to wane anytime soon. 

Photo: BBC