“I don’t wake up to be average,” says Reece Prescod, as he outlines his plans to go global in 2019. “And if I don’t aim for great things, then I won’t achieve anything.” And then it all tumbles out. His ambition to topple Linford Christie’s 25-year-old British 100m record. His intention to break 20 seconds in the 200m. And – for good measure – to finish off the year by taking gold at the world championships in Doha.
Some will scoff. But why should Prescod not shoot for the stars in the post-Usain Bolt era, when the title of the world’s best sprinter is up for grabs for the first time in over a decade? Especially when he is only 22 and he already finishes like a bullet train?
In August, after Prescod won a European silver medal in Berlin and set a new 100m personal best of 9.94sec a week later, he bought himself a projector to help analyse his races. But he does not need a giant screen to know he is heading for the big time if he can master getting out of the blocks.
“I am confident I am one of the best finishers in the world,” he says. “I have been working on a few things over winter and it feels like my start is getting better every time I go out. I got it down by a tenth in 2018 and it is getting faster. But I am in a generation now where the top guys, such as Ronnie Baker and Christian Coleman, are phenomenal. No one has ever started so fast as them. So, if I can get it down a little more, I will be in contention.”
Prescod will get the chance to show how much he has kicked on when he competes over 60m at the Birmingham Indoor Grand Prix next month against the world indoor silver medallist, Su Bingtian, CJ Ujah and Richard Kilty. “It is a perfect opportunity to work on my start and make sure I don’t give myself too much to do in races,“ he says, although he is yet to decide whether to go for the European Indoor Championships in Glasgow in March.
Instead his main focus is on making the grandest of splashes when it comes to the outdoor season. “After the indoors I will take a bit of a break because I have had a hard winter and then I will pick it up again around May,” he says. “With the worlds in September and October I need to be smart and not over-push myself.
“And while I can’t give you all the secrets, I have already planned what I’d like to achieve,” he adds. “The priority is the world championships – I finished seventh in the final last time so I want to at least get a medal or win that. When it comes to the nationals I’ve also won two years in a row so it would be good to get a hat-trick. Meanwhile in the 100m the British record is the first aim, and in the 200m I want sub-20. And in an ideal world I want to run sub-10 at every meet. They are my five base targets.”
These are lofty goals. But Prescod clearly has great expectations. “Year by year it will come,” he says. “If I look at Usain Bolt’s career he was getting bigger and stronger each year. But I don’t want to rest on my laurels and be comfortable. I want to put myself out there and be a competitor.”
Tickets to see the world’s best athletes on Saturday 16 February at the Müller Indoor Grand Prix, Birmingham, are on sale now