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Lamb continues chasing dream

Liam Lamb sprints away to win the National U20 3000m title in January. PHOTOS/FILE


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While many of his peers have opted for American university scholarships, Liam Lamb has chosen to chase his dream in New Zealand, with the World University Games a long-term goal.

The promising middle-distance runner rose to prominence in January, winning the National Under-20 3000m title at Cooks Gardens, Whanganui.

Lamb is targeting the NZ Cross-Country Champs in August.

Lamb’s time of 8min 24.79 seconds smashed his previous personal best by 28 seconds and ranked him sixth in the world in the under-20 age group.

That capped off a consistent run of form and opened the door for Lamb to consider an athletics scholarship at a US university. However, despite several offers the 18-year-old has taken up an athletics scholarship at Massey University’s Academy of Sport in Palmerston North, where he is also studying sports management part-time.

Several factors led to Lamb’s decision to stay in New Zealand, including advice from a double Olympic medallist.

“I spoke to Nick Willis, who is my mentor, and he advised me the best way to achieve my athletics goals was to study part-time, and that way I could train with more intensity,” he said.

“I’ve got a good relationship with my coach Mark Harris and it takes about two years to build up a relationship with a new coach.

“It was a bit too soon for me, and I didn’t want to go through the pressures of training and school like some of my running mates.”

Lamb would normally train for two hours a day, in the morning and in the afternoon, but has only returned to training after battling a stress fracture in a foot.

“I believe it’s gone. It really happened at the right time with covid-19. I had already had a month off and then did nothing during lockdown. I started biking in Level 3, and I have been running for the last two weeks.

“I’ve been home in Masterton, where I have had good support from my coach, physio and nutritionist.”

The former Wairarapa College student has some lofty goals once he returns to full fitness.

“I’m building up my mileage to between 110 and 120km a week, with the target of the New Zealand Cross-Country Champs in Otago in August. I’m still in the Under-20 grade, so I should go okay.”

After that, Lamb intends to tackle the Night of Fives in Auckland – the biggest 5000m event in New Zealand, where he plans to enter the open race.

“I want to qualify for the World University Games in Chengdu, China in August 2021. My best time for the 5k is 15min 39sec, and my target would be 14min 10sec.”

Lamb is in the Athletics NZ promising athletes’ programme and he said they were giving him a lot of support to prepare for the 5000m.

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