When David Rudisha broke the world record at London 2012, Kyle Langford had no idea who the Kenyan was.
Three years on, Langford has his sights set on a place in the 800 metres final alongside Rudisha at the World Championships in Beijing.
Having only taken up running in 2011 – in the 200m after a late request from his school to help out – his ascent has been remarkable. And the 19-year-old, the youngest man in the British team, has loftier ambitions than merely lining up against Rudisha.
“Definitely, I think London 2017 for the World Championships will be the year I’ll go for the gold,” he said. “The next Olympics it will just be about making the final and who knows what will happen? I might surprise myself. But I think London 2017 is probably where I’ll start picking up my medals.”
As a latecomer, Langford does not want for confidence and his early successes as a middle-distance runner have led to the inevitable comparisons with Seb Coe and his long-term rival Steve Ovett. In Langford’s case they may not be far-fetched.
His time of 1min 45.78sec at the Anniversary Games last month will not win him a medal in China but it was just a 10th of a second shy of David Sharpe’s junior British record. Rather than being daunted by comparison to Olympic champions, Langford revels in it.
“I’m pretty confident I can go and run a lot faster,” he said. “For me it’s just a learning curve so I can better the guys like Steve Ovett and Seb Coe because I don’t want to be in it to just be a good GB runner, I want to be a good world runner. I want to be the best. I’m not in it just for the short run, I’m in it for the long run and I want to maximise everything I can give.”
He has won two titles this season: he is British champion after beating Michael Rimmer, and he won the European junior crown – both performances moulded by his first altitude training camp in Kenya at the end of last year.
It is a notable improvement on last year, which was curtailed when he became ill at the World Juniors with what was diagnosed as food poisoning at the time but left him sick for two weeks. He has been meticulous in picking out his meals in China, joking that he had thought about taking up Usain Bolt’s penchant for chicken nuggets.
Langford has raced against Rudisha on three occasions, trailing behind each time. As is his custom, he will smile to himself in the Bird’s Nest call room as he lines up against Rudisha, not quite believing that it has got to this point but determined to take it much further.Reuse content