HE may usually feature in the Mail for his achievements on the athletics track – but it’s the stage performances of middle distance runner Richard Morrell that may be making the headlines in the future.
Despite having never sung on stage before, and only singing for his family two weeks before his audition, the 24-year-old wowed the X Factor judges, flying through to the bootcamp stage with four “yes” responses.
Richard, who lives in the Bishop Cuthbert area of Hartlepool, admitted “it all felt quite surreal” as he stood on stage receiving an array of compliments from the four expert judges.
Gary Barlow described his rendition of Paulo Nutini and Ray Charles hits as a “polished performance”, while former Pussycat Dolls beauty Nicole Scherzinger said she thinks it’s time for Richard to hang up the running spikes and focus on his singing.
Quite a response for the diagnostic radiographer who, after a long day of auditions which started in Newcastle at 6am, was back at work at the Freeman Hospital, in the city, the following day.
“It was crazy actually,” Richard told the Mail.
“I didn’t really know what to expect.
“I got there at 6am and did an interview, then there was a lot of waiting around.
“I was stood at the side of the stage for a while before I went on and I could see the judges.
“I was quite nervous but it was worse because I had seen nobody at all get through in the morning.”
As well as the glowing comments from Gary Barlow and Nicole Scherzinger, long-serving judge Louis Walsh told Richard he had “real potential” and a unique, recording voice, while Tulisa also praised his performance.
Richard will now perform again at the bootcamp stage and, if he gets through, will make the trip to one of the judges’ houses, the final stage before the live shows.
But he insists he isn’t thinking that far ahead just yet.
“I might lack a bit of experience to get as far as the judges’ houses,” he said.
“I’d like to think I could do well at the bootcamp but we will have to wait and see.
“To be honest I am delighted to have got this far.”
For now, despite Nicole’s comments, it’s back to running for Richard.
He is in the middle of his best season to date on the track and last week missed out on a spot at the Olympic trials 1500m race by one 10th of a second.
But Richard admitted his performance on stage did cause quite a stir.
“When I came out at the end of the day there were loads of people coming up to me asking for photographs and saying well done, I couldn’t believe it,” he said.
“I thought I could sing a little bit, but I didn’t really expect this.”
The new series of the X Factor is due to get under way on ITV1 later this year.