WORLD champion Richard Kilty wants to build on his shock gold medal – and run under 10 seconds for the 100m.
The 24-year-old Gateshead Harrier came from nowehere to win the 60m gold at the World Indoor Championships in Sopot on Saturday night.
And the sprinter, from Stockton, now has his sights set on becoming only the second white man to break the 10-second barrier for 100m.
Training under Rana Reider in Loughborough rather than alone on the streets of Teesside, Kilty aims to emulate France’s Christophe Lemaitre by running under 10 seconds outdoors; his current personal best is 10.10secs.
“My two biggest helps have been my dad and Rana the last six months,” he said. “He’s given me confidence, he’s fixed my technique, he’s made me believe I can be one of the world’s best sprinters.
“I think I can run nine seconds. I’m not going to say I’m going to do it this year or next year but I think within my career I can run well into nine seconds.
“I know that’s a pretty big statement with my skin colour, being white, but I wouldn’t mind being the next man to break 10 seconds.
“I know it’s a pretty big statement but I’ve come out and become world champion, so to do that’s not so much of a problem.”
Until Saturday evening, Kilty’s career was more memorable for a catalogue of missed opportunities and controversial incidents, including being convicted of causing criminal damage last November by smashing his hand through the window of an estate agency in his home town. He was fined £500 and offered to pay it off at £5 per week.
He was also arrested over an alleged baseball bat attack in 2012 and although later cleared of any wrongdoing, blamed the bad publicity for costing him sponsors.
That occurred around the same time as London was staging the Olympics for which he had been controversially overlooked, despite running the qualifying standard for the 200m.
After an unsuccessful appeal, Kilty considered quitting the sport or possibly representing Ireland, saying he felt “let down” by governing body British Athletics.
He also suffered a torn hamstring and was struggling to get by without any funding, but returned to the track in January 2013 and posted enough impressive times to be restored to the funding programme in October.
Kilty credits Reider for realising he was an “undiscovered talent” who was always overlooked by “certain members” of British Athletics who are no longer with the organisation, a reference to former head coach Charles van Commenee who left his post after the Olympics.
“In the past, there were members I didn’t get on with for some reason, maybe I was overlooked because I am from the north-east, out of the way,” added Kilty, who replaced the injured James Dasaolu in the British team for Sopot.
“I wasn’t angry, I thrive on that, I am a fighter and nothing can keep me down. I have come through so many struggles and hard work. I have come from an area which is deprived.
“Hopefully this can make people in Teesside and Britain realise that if you come from a deprived area, if you think you don’t have an option in life, you always have. Anyone can do it if I can do it, if you work towards it. I like proving people wrong and hopefully I can continue doing that.
“Now I am in Loughborough I am getting massive help with British Athletics. Hopefully I can be a part of this.”