ATHLETICS: Lightning Jack is on the fast track to glory
5:00pm Saturday 4th January 2014 in By Dan Barnes
TEENAGE sprint sensation Jack Wiskin is moving with a spring in his step as he aims to test himself in some of the biggest events in the world this year.
The visually-impaired 18-year-old, who lives in Codford and is a pupil at Larkrise School in Trowbridge, enjoyed a glittering 2013 on the track, with highlights including 100m ambulant gold at the England Athletics U15/ U17 Championships in Bedford, in August, and silver at the England Athletics Senior Disability Championships two months earlier in Birmingham.
Wiskin, who trains alongside sprinters at Team Bath, primarily races in the T12 category and currently holds the all-time 100m record.
The Wiltshire youngster has the 2014 IPC European Championships in Swansea and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in his sights, with his long-term aim being representing Great Britain at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“Next year, there’s the Commonwealth Games. Then there’s the Europeans in July as well,” said Wiskin.
“Last season, they didn’t put me in for the World Championships (in Lyon) because I’d only just started my season but I might be ready for it next time (in 2015).
“Going to the Europeans next year would be the first time for me. There’s going to be loads of my fans cheering and that will be something new.
“The Paralympics are in three years’ time. I’m aiming for it and I’ve got plenty of time – there would be countries from all around the world and it would be amazing.
“I went to watch the sprinters at London 2012. I saw T12 men in the 100m and my dad was saying I’d be running against them in the future.”
Wiskin, who studies at Larkrise because of learning difficulties, had begun running before he lost his sight aged 16, due to a brain tumour caused by a rare condition called Tubular Sclerosis.
His Larkrise PE teacher Rachel Bown, who is also an international age group triathlete, has taught him since he was 13 and reckons that Wiskin’s speed is unquestionable.
“In 2008, I was asked to take some children to trials for the national disability championships, which historically happened in Blackpool each year,” she said.
“I was asked to take three children, Jack, Wesley and Liam, and they qualified. So then myself and another teacher took the three boys to Blackpool to compete.
“Jack won everything that year, including the long jump, and the next year, Jack won again. The year after that, he broke the national record.
“Jack’s dad Andrew has always been very supportive. Whilst we were in Blackpool, he said to me ‘Will he have a future in the Paralympics?’ and I said ‘No, it will be the Special Olympics.’
“The real irony of it is that, sadly, on Christmas Eve 2010 he was rushed in to hospital for an emergency operation to save his life. Fortunately they did, but they couldn’t save his sight.
“They removed a whole optic nerve from one eye and the other one was very damaged but they left it in place. So Jack does see but not much and he can’t really tell you what he sees.
“It’s a strange thing that happens. He can fly around the school and not bump into anything and he can hit a ball on a top of a cone from 20 metres but he’d come out of the school and trip over a step.
"So it’s a concentration thing as well. And when he’s on the track, it’s always the same because he’s just going from A to B as fast as he can.
“When he ran 200m for the first time, I stood at the end with a red coat on so he could see me jumping around and Jack came second.
“The fact is that if Jack hadn’t lost his sight, he wouldn’t even be thinking about Rio and that’s the silver lining.
“From the first time I saw him run, I knew he could sprint. He runs on his toes naturally and his acceleration over the first 10 metres is huge.
“It’s a bit like the Mo Farah story. His PE teacher saw him run and knew he’d be a champion and it’s the same with Jack.”
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