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After a good block of training and serious technique work. Neil Bates showed that hard work pays when he beat his 10km personal best time by over a minute in Dublin on Saturday.

Neil, who gains financial suppurt from the Isle of Man Sports Council, started at a quick but comfortable pace, Neil found himself in the leading group racing some truely class athletes, including Irish olympian and Athens hopeful Robert Hefferman. They all worked together and managed to go through 5km at 23 mins. This pace was only some 30seconds slower than Neil’s 5km PB, but he felt comfortable and able to carry on at much the same pace.

The group started to break with Rob pushing on. Neil decided to stick at the pace he was at as he knew he was safe and already on for a good time. Neil finally started to come back to Rob with 3km to go, but was unable to reduce the distance completely.

Neil finished 2nd in the 10km race with a time of 46mins 14 seconds beating his previous best of 47mins 29. On returning to the Island Neil was very pleased. "My previous best was set in January and Ive been working so hard all year round, its about time that it was revised. To make such a massive improvement at this time of year is just amazing, but I just have to make sure I dont make the mistakes I did last year and find that I have nothing left by the time summer comes" Neil said " But I am so pleased that now it seems the work has paid off.

"I wanted to set a quick pace at first and to see how i felt at half way. At 5km I knew i could keep it going till the end. I had abit of a problem with my drink at 7km which slowed me for a while, but with 2km to go I knew I only had to suffer for 9 minutes so I pushed myself and picked up almost all the time I’d lost."

After the race, Neil’s weekend was only starting as afterward he was able to link up with Ireland’s World Silver medallist, Gillian O’Sullivan, and her coach Michael Lane.  "Micheal has always been a massive source of knowledge and always more than happy to pass on any tips to me, so I spent most of Saturday and Sunday working on technique and also training and plans for the future" Neil explained "I also had alot of time to talk to Gillian about her life and training and learnt so much about what it takes to get to where she is…. It was amazing, but well worth it, the Irish certainly do have their heads screwed."

As well as Michael and Gillian, Neil says that his own Coach Allan is a pricelss resource in his walking career and general life which says he is truely grateful for and knows he could not live without.




Neil Bates, one of the Islands young International Race Walkers will be competing in Dublin on Saturday morning. Neil, who is supported by the Sports Aid Foundation, will be competing in the Junior 10km race that is incorporated with the Ireland National 35km Championships. Neil has spent some time over the last few months training and consolidating all the work he has put in over the last year, But has opted to test himself one final time before the end of the year. 

"Its been a long year of racing this year for me, but I have managed to keep at a consistent standard through out." Neil reflects. " I have been spending a lot of time concentrating on my technique and on my race tactics over the last two months and wanted to push myself one last time before the end of the year" 

Neil has upped the quality and quantity of his training since deciding to take a year out from his studies at Birmingham University, he still regularly travels over to the mainland to train with the National Squad, which he has been selected for this winter for the 4th time. Under the eye of National Coach Martin Bell and some of the other top coaches in the UK he has access to a wealth of knowledge. 

Neil will be travelling to Dublin early on Saturday morning for an 11am start. He is upbeat and looking forward to the challenge. "I have been testing myself a lot in training, but there’s no better test than in a race. Hopefully there will be a be a lot of walkers in the field to help me to really get the best out of myself, but I am confidant that I can still do a reasonable time even if I have to race the whole distance on my own." 

Neil would again like to thank the Isle of Man Sports Council for their assistance towards travel to Coaching weekends and Competitions, also to his coach Allan Callow who is unfailingly willing to assist in improving the success of all the young walkers on the Island.


Picture by Murray Lambden at the 2003 AAA Championships


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