Ones to watch: Records have tumbled at Max Burgin’s feet

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Max Burgin leads the 800m at the Northern Championships. Photo: Dave Hewitson/Sports for All Pics.

In a year where the world has marvelled at sensational young talents like European pole vault champion Mondo Duplantis and European double winner Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Britain has its eye on a young prodigy of its own.

A year ago, Max Burgin was already in the minds of many throughout athletics, running the fastest 800m time ever for a 15-year-old of 1:49.42 all under the guidance of his grandfather and coach Brian.

Picking him as one of our athletes to watch for 2018 has certainly paid dividends. The now 16-year-old has well and truly upped the ante – dominating the European Youth Championships in his first ever race outside of the British Isles – and sitting firmly on top of the world under 18 rankings.

In a season full of phenomenal achievements, the Halifax-born athlete’s whole season can arguably be summed up in one race.

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It’s not the age 15 world best over 800m at Sportcity in May (above), or the European under 18 gold, which aside from being his first international title, brought an age 16 world best of 1:47.36.

The race that perhaps best encapsulates Burgin’s impressive season is his 800m victory at the England under 17 Championships in Bedford in August. It was the comparatively small matter of a 1.49.21 championship best, which didn’t surprise anyone who watched it unfold.

It was simply business as usual for Burgin. Max retained his title, beat his own record and dominated the race with a sense of inevitability, while those who watched the race accepted it as just another masterful piece of running from an ever-improving young talent.

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Those who predict greatness for youngsters like Max on the basis of his 15 or 16-year-old self are of course playing with fire. The Burgin family seem as aware as anyone of how to stop expectations from getting too high.

In 2017, the teenager came into the English Schools Championships as the highest ranked athlete by over two seconds, but lost out to fast finisher Oliver Dustin.

Max told us when we visited him on a cold night in Halifax, that he’a “learnt a lot from that race” and has his feet firmly on the ground, with his unique family coaching set up and ‘old school’ style of training continuing to work wonders.Comparisons with Jakob Ingebrigtsen, who is coached by his father, are almost inevitable.

The incredible improvement of the 18-year-old Norwegian shows what’s possible.In some cases Burgin’s rise can be seen as more spectacular than Ingebrigtsen’s, considering that, unlike Jakob, Max has never had the same intense level of training as the Norwegian, who trains twice, sometimes even three times a day.

The Yorkshireman is a young runner who took up the sport as a hobby along with others at his local club, yet his talent is phenomenal and his potential is obvious.

When we chatted to Max (above) after the 1:47.50 800m he ran at the British Milers’ Club Grand Prix in May, he said “I’ve got exams this year, so it’s good to get a good time in this early”, with his dad admitting that Max is a “level-headed guy” who doesn’t seem to get carried away.

Naturally though, the Halifax athlete was “over the moon” with his European dominance come July, describing his run from the front as “the perfect race…everything I could’ve hoped for” (below).

But as he makes his step up to the under 20 age group, you might well see a degree of familiarity about watching Max Burgin race, just like there was in Bedford in August. With the guidance of two generations behind him, it’s an exciting time to keep your eyes on this young man from Halifax.

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First published on: 7 November, 2018 4:17 pm

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