Athletics ace gets overseas opportunity

Ross Skelton (right) with Ross Garnett, of Dynamic Scaffolding.
Ross Skelton (right) with Ross Garnett, of Dynamic Scaffolding.

A high class athlete from St Leonards has received a boost in his quest to reach the top from a local business.

Ross Skelton has received sponsorship from Dynamic Scaffolding Ltd which will enable him to go on high altitude training camps overseas.

Ross Skelton comes home to win the Christmas Pudding Dash in Pett last December.

Ross Skelton comes home to win the Christmas Pudding Dash in Pett last December.

He said: “It will be a massive thing for me because being on the cusp of getting an England vest, it’s just that next step that I need a little bit of help with.”

Skelton is hoping to go on two overseas training trips, which will be roughly a month in duration, next year. Kenya, South Africa and Font-Romeu, the French training base of the great Paula Radcliffe, are possible destinations.

The 24-year-old and his father Terry, chairman of Hastings Athletic Club, run an altitude training business themselves so they are well aware of the benefits it can provide.

By training at high altitude, athletes aim to allow their bodies to produce extra red blood cells. They then aim to take advantage of their changed physiology in competition at lower elevations.

“It’s going to be a massive step forward for me and a lot of help,” continued Skelton. “This is what we have to do if we’re ever going to compete with the Kenyans.”

It will also give Skelton, who has just become fully qualified in sports massage, the opportunity to live and train like a full-time athlete.

Skelton, who runs for the Brighton Phoenix club and is coached by Jon Bigg, has had the goal of running in the Olympic marathon ever since he was a child.

That sort of distance is very much for the future, though. Skelton’s preferred distance currently is 5k or 10k, but it won’t be long before he steps up to the half marathon.

“In the next couple of years I’ll be trying to get an England or GB vest, get some international experience and hopefully advance from that upwards,” he said.

Skelton feels a lot of stress and pressure has come off his shoulders since undergoing a major stomach operation at Charing Cross Hospital 16 months ago.

Ever since the age of 10 he has suffered with severe stitch pain while running, but only last year was the cause of the problem finally identified.

The main artery in his stomach was being compressed by the muscles around it. He was told by a doctor that if he carries on running, he could eventually die because the problem was stopping the blood flow to other organs in the body.

The operation involved taking a vein out of his left leg and clearing the scar tissue in the stomach which had built up over the years to improve the blood flow in that area.

Skelton said the recovery was brilliant, although scar tissue was an issue. He undergoes regular physio treatment with Mary Sanderson and has incorporated pilates into his training.

He is now running around 100 miles per week, as well as two gym sessions, which he says is a big step up. The world’s leading distance athletes run around 120 miles per week.

Ross Garnett, managing director of Dynamic Scaffolding and a Hastings AC member, said: “Terry’s been really good to me personally with running and I just wanted to help him out really. Ross is a really gifted runner and I wouldn’t want to see that wasted through not having the opportunity.

“We’re just trying to support him because it costs a lot to be a self-funded athlete. He’s pretty close to breaking through at the top level and it would be nice to see him make the most of the opportunity.”