RICHARD Morrell heads to Loughborough tomorrow brimming with confidence - and so he should be.
The Hartlepool 25-year-old is coming off the back of his best cross country season to date by a long shot, and a good opening to his track season which saw him race his way to a spot on the podium.
Morrell, running over the unfamiliar distance of 5,000m, grabbed an excellent bronze medal at the recent British Universities Championships.
Representing Teesside University, Morrell eased his way through his heat at Bedford before running a tactically sound race in the final, only losing out on the top two spots in a sprint finish to two recognised and experienced 5,000m men.
Metric miler Morrell still sees his strongest distance as 1500m, but it’s over 3,000m where he’s hoping for a big personal best at the Loughborough International tomorrow.
Morrell has no intentions of making the running in the race and insists it’s not all about the time, but with a packed field full of proven internationals on the track and mud, the pace will undoubtedly be pushed from the early stages.
“It’s a packed quality field and I’m glad to be in a race like this,” Morrell told SportMail.
“I need to take these opportunities.
“I know I’m in good shape but I’m going to go there and sit in, settle into the race and see what happens.”
A big personal best tomorrow will be an obvious boost, but his main focus is his seasonal debut over 1500m, which will most probably be at the British Milers Club Sports City Grand Prix, in two weeks time.
“That (1500m) is still the main aim and distance for me,” added Morrell.
“I don’t have a set target time-wise but I think I’m capable of running 3.42, 3.43 definitely.”
Morrell says he would “love” to have a medal round his neck again by the time the Northern Championships come round later in the season, and will then turn his attention to the national AAA Championships.
“There, it would be an absolute delight if I could get out of my heat,” said Morrell.
“If I made it to the final that would be a big achievement.”
More big races will surely come Morrell’s way throughout the season if he continues to impress, the first chance coming over seven and a half laps at Loughborough tomorrow.