Big Interview: Whirlwind few months could be capped by Olympic call for Preston Harrier Patrick Dever
Craig Salmon talks to Preston Harriers’ long-distance runner Patrick Dever ahead of possible call-up for the Team GB Olympic squad
Those familiar with the athletics column in the Lancashire Post will have –over the past decade or so –become familiar with the name of Patrick Dever.
Donning the famous blue vest, Dever has represented Preston Harriers from childhood.
Around Central Lancashire, his name is synonymous with the sport but after his exploits over the past month or so, the 24-year-old is making people around the country, if not the world, sit up and take notice of his abilities.
It’s certainly been a meteoric rise for the Harrier this year – so much so that he may have to extend his season to accommodate an appearance at this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo!
Dever has catapulted his name to the top of the UK list of elite level runners in the long distance disciplines of the 5,000m and the 10,000m.
The former Loughborough University student– who has spent the past couple of year studying and training at the University of in Tulsa, in Oklahoma, USA, – was obviously feeling in decent form when he took part in the NCAA Division One Championships.
The highest level of intercollegiate athletics in the States, Dever somewhat upset the odds when he crossed the finishing line.in the 10,000m at Hayward Field, held at the University of
Oregon in Eugene, first in a storming personal best time of 27:41.87.
The mark placed him second in Britain for the distance in 2021 and just 13 seconds off the Olympic qualifying standard.
Just a couple of days later, he was in action again, finishing sixth in another PB time of 13:19.85.
This again placed him second among his fellow UK competitors and just six seconds short of the Olympic standard.
If that was good then it was to get even better last weekend at the UK Championships, in Manchester, when he claimed victory in 5,000m in a time of 13:37:30.
Despite falling just short of the qualifying times for Tokyo, the clamour for his inclusion at the Games is growing louder by the day.
His world ranking alone could see him win Olympic selection and Dever admits things could not have gone better for him over the last few months.
Incredibly, Dever only ran his first 10,000m on the track in April.
“I was originally planning on ending my season after the UK Championships last weekend,” said Dever, who is up for selection solely for the 10,000m in Tokyo.
“But because it’s gone so well, I am just waiting to see what happens and if I get picked for the Olympics in Tokyo.
“It’s all a bit up in the air at the but I am going to keep training and I should find out more soon.
“It has been a bit of a whirlwind these past few months.
“In April I ran my first 10,000m on the track – it’s crazy to think that just a few months later I could be running in the Olympic final.
“That’s is pretty cool to think about especially as I have only run a few 10,000m this season.
“It has just gone really well. Every race I seemed to have grown in confidence and it’s just been a really good end to my time studying at the University of Tulsa.”
A student of athletics from a very early age, Dever has been inspired by some of the greats of the past.
He admits that sometimes he has to pinch himself when he considers that he could quite possibly be following in their footsteps in the near future.
“I have always been a big fan of the sport,” said Dever, who attended St Anne’s Primary School and Leyland St Mary’s High School
“I always used to watch the big races, the best athletes of the past compete on the television and see the times that they were running.
“To think that I am getting close to those sort of times and even surpassing some of the times that I used to watch people run, it’s very cool.
“I guess when I think about it, it’s just been about being patient over the years and trying to progress gradually each year.
“I have tried not to get too caught up about one particular race and just tried to keep focused on the bigger picture.”
One person who won’t be going to the Olympics this year is British legend Mo Farah.
Now aged 38, Farah won gold in both the 5,000m and 10,000m at the past two Games but he has failed to qualify for Tokyo.
However, Dever admitted his fellow Brit has been an inspiration to young athletes like himself over the years.
“Watching Mo do the double double at the Olympics was very special,” said Dever.
“I regard him as probably the greatest along distance runner of all time because of what he was able to achieve in Championships. I think I could get to that sort of level over the next few years.
“I have just concentrated on making small improvements each year but obviously this year has been a bigger jump.
“So I don’t see why I can’t keep progressing in the same way.
“Mo’s 38-years-old now so nine years ago when he was winning at the London Olympics, he would have been 29 – I’m 24 now so I don’t see why I can’t be at my peak in four, five years’ time and hopefully challenging at the top of the sport.”
While he definitely has eyes on the sports top prizes such as the Olympics, the World and European Championships and the Commonwealth Games in the long-term future, Dever admits he is still very much in the development phase of his career.
It is the reason why he will not be heaping too much pressure on himself should he win a seat on the plane to Tokyo.
“I think the goal would be to run a personal best,” he said. “But the aim would be to be as competitive as I could be.
“I think going into these Games, I would be looking to take away as much experience as I possibly can.
“Hopefully it will help me in the future to win medals on the biggest stages.
“I know next year, we have got a home Commonwealth Games in Birmingham which will be very cool to compete in.
“With all the competitions being delayed because of Covid-19, we have actually got three major competitions coming up next year. We will also have the Europeans and the Worlds.
“Over the next few years, it’s going to be a jam-packed calendar and the aim is to make these major championships and get into the top six or eight.”
No matter where he is in the world and what he goes on to accomplish, long-distance runner Patrick Dever will always be proud to represent Preston Harriers on the global stage.
Although the 24-year-old is at the beginning of a fruitful career at the highest level, he will always be grateful to his hometown club for the grounding it has given him in the sport.
“The club has got a great tradition of developing quality athletes like Helen Clitheroe and John Nuttall, who have both competed at the highest level," he said. "Growing up, I loved the social side to it.
"Going away on trips to competitions. Sill to this day, most of my closest friends – even though some of them don’t run anymore – are from Preston Harriers.”
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