March 7, 2022

BSc (Hons) Sports Performance and Exercise student, Tom Partington, has put his best foot forward to win a national race walking event, crowning him the English champion.

A fierce race walking competitor, Tom learned to love the sport through years of watching his parents compete internationally. Inspired by his parents’ talent, he decided to begin competing at the age of 13. 

Nine years later, Tom is at the top of his game after scooping first place at the Senior National 10km Road Championships and taking home the silver medal at the Senior Indoor British Championships.

With his sights set on the Olympics, Tom hopes to complete his degree and step into a mentoring role, where he can inspire the next generation of young athletes.

What is your motivation for race walking?

“I’m determined to see what I can achieve by training hard and staying focused. My parents showed me how to be a successful athlete while also having other commitments. 

“Finding a balance between training and studying is essential; I do this by organising training with my lecturers. My tutors at University Centre Leeds have been central to my success, as they have always made sure I have enough time and support to complete my work.”

How did it feel to become the English champion?

“I was ecstatic! I train 12 times a week, so it’s incredibly rewarding to see my hard work paying off. Although the training schedule is demanding, the social aspect is great, and it’s motivating to surround myself with talented sports people who are all striving to reach their potential.”

How has your degree supported you in your race walking journey?

“My Sports Performance course has acted as a springboard for my career as an athlete. I’ve learnt an incredible amount of theoretical knowledge, paired with practical activities which have helped to enhance my skill set. 

“I’m incredibly grateful to my tutors; they’ve been so patient and accommodating with my race walking commitments, which has helped me to juggle both my studies and training.”

What are your ambitions for the future?

“In five years’ time, I’d like to be selected for all the major race walking championships, including the Commonwealth Games and Olympics.

“Mentoring has always been a passion of mine, so I’d love the opportunity to work with young people to help them discover their sporting passions. There are many exciting sports, such as race walking, which aren’t part of the school curriculum, so I’d love to introduce unique sports like this to the next generation.”

What advice would you give to an aspiring athlete?

“Make sure you enjoy it and have fun. Consistency is key – if you are consistent, you’ll keep on improving. Embrace the pain and give it your best shot.”

Tom’s upcoming races include the British Indoor Championships, the England 10,000m Championships and the Isle of Man 10,000m Championships, which will be Tom’s final chance to qualify for the Commonwealth Games.