DAN STUDLEY hopes his first outing in an England vest will act as a springboard to more international honours, taking him all the way to the Olympics.
The 20-year-old from Tytherington impressed national coaches as he finished second of the four senior English runners in the Burgos Cross Country International in Spain last weekend, coming 38th overall out of about 200 high calibre competitors in 30 minutes exactly.
After being amongst the first runners to compete in the Olympic Stadium and watching London 2012 earlier this year, Studley has certainly been inspired to chase his dream of being part of the world’s biggest show one day, but insists he is taking things in his stride.
Studley’s attention now turns to the European Cross Country Championship Trials in Liverpool and, boosted by his performance on the continent, he is confident he can qualify as one of Great Britain’s top runners.
“It was a huge experience being around the England team,” said Studley.
“To be second of the English runners was really good. It felt like a road race so it suited me down to the ground.
“The managers have been really supportive and said if I can run like that in two weeks in the Trials I will make the under-23 team for the European Championships – that’s my big aim this year.”
Studley was given tickets to watch a few days at the Olympics by his former club Westbury Harriers.
The Bristol & West AC runner admitted it was surreal watching Ross Murray compete for Great Britain, having raced against him in the BUCS Cross Country Championships in Cardiff just six months earlier, and made the Olympic dream feel within reach.
Studley, who attends Oxford Brookes University, said: “Seeing Ross Murray in the 1500m made it feel realistic. It’s quite exciting because it shows it’s possible.
“But I’m not looking at the bigger picture yet, I’m looking at every little aim.”
Competing in the stadium itself also helped whet Studley’s appetite, as he reached the 1500m semi-finals at the BUCS Championships, which served as a test event for London 2012.
“It was amazing. The setup was like the Olympic Games,” he said.
“You walk under a tunnel under the stadium and get paraded onto the track.
“I’ve got two more summers to take part in that, and hopefully next summer I’ll make the final.”
Although Studley has made his international breakthrough in the cross country circuit, it is the track where he feels more comfortable and he thinks he could end up as a 5,000m runner.
He found out he had an iron deficiency in 2010 and learning to deal with that has made a massive difference.
“Since then I’ve made an astronomical improvement,” said Studley.
“My 1500m time has gone from 4:20 to 3:46, so it’s been a huge help to get my strength back.”