Olympics in 2024 is target for Sussex ace Skelton

Hastings athlete Ross Skelton is targeting a spot at the 2024 Olympics after playing his part in trials for this year’s Games.

Friday, 2nd April 2021, 7:30 am
Ross Skelton in action in the marathon trial
Ross Skelton in action in the marathon trial

Marathon specialist Skelton was invited to pace the pack of elite British marathon runners for the Muller British Olympic trials held at Kew Gardens, Richmond, last Friday, where runners were bidding to make the team for this year’s Tokyo games.

Earlier this year Skelton competed alongside Britain’s long distance superstar Sir Mo Farrah in Antrim.

At Kew he was asked to pace the second group of runners at a 2hr 14min pace to the halfway point – and he did exactly that.

He set a halfway pace of 67 minutes before stepping to one side to preserve his energy for an elite-only gold standard marathon competition in Wrexham at the end of April. With races few and far between over the past year as a result of the pandemic, i’s been almost two years since Skelton has been able to register a key event time.

Skelton’s previous best was just seconds outside of the qualifying marker but he is now running well within the standard and is making a name for himself, as shown by his Kew invite.

The race was won by 39-year-old Chris Thompson in 2:10:50 and he now joins the Olympic team for the second time.

At just 27 Skelton has years of marathons in front of him and is getting stronger every time he runs.

It was a very proud moment for the young HY Runners ace.

He said: “It was an honour for me to be selected even as a pacemaker, but very important that I stuck to the game plan as I have Wrexham in fourweeks which is a gold standard race and a chance for me to register an impressive time among elite marathon runners.

“Realistically the target for me is the Paris Olympics in 2024 but there are a lot of races between then and now and I’m well ahead of schedule for where I want to be and I will only get stronger.

“With occasions such as pacing the Olympic trials, I’m delighted to be involved, and it was certainly a new experience being a pacesetter.

“I’m so used to focusing my attention on the course and my own race, and usually I would probably hold back at bit to look to push on in the second half of the race. So to be out in front and have to think for the pack was a unique experience and actually took a lot of mental concentration, but nonetheless I loved being involved.”

Skelton’s last race before Antrim was the Isle of Wight Marathon in September 2020 when in storm-force winds he finished way out in front and took seven minutes off the course record.

He is running 100 plus miles a week in training and his backers, including his coach elite trainer Geoff Watkins, are confident he can operate at the highest level.

An HY Runners spokesman said: “Well done to Ross Mazungo Skelton who is putting Hastings running firmly back on the map.

“All roads now firmly lead to Paris, and everything in between is a bonus, but next step Wrexham.Good luck Ross.”