Luke Cutts is hoping to become the most successful British pole vaulter in history after adding his first national indoor championship to his UK record.
The 25-year-old from Thurnscoe – who is also the reigning national outdoor champion – overcame a stomach bug to win the British Indoor Championships on Sunday at his training base of the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.
His clearance of 5.60m was well off his British record of 5.83m set two weeks earlier in France, but it was 15 centimetres clear of the rest of the field and established him at the top of the sport in this country. Cutts is also ranked second in the world this year and is hoping to become the first ever British man to win a medal at the World Indoor Championships which will be held in Poland in three weeks.
When the outdoor season starts, the Dearne ALC athlete could also become the first British man to take a European Championship medal since Geoff Elliott's bronze in 1954 while he is also eyeing England's first gold medal in the Commonwealth Games – held in Glasgow this August – since Andy Ashurst in 1986.
Cutts said: "This country doesn't have a good record at pole vault in major championships so hopefully I can change that. I would love to get medals at the highest level and be known as the best British vaulter ever. I am having some new, stronger and longer poles shipped in and hopefully I will have a good ten days training on them to get used to them before I go to Poland. There should be a few more UK records soon and it would be unreal if I could do it for the second time in two months at the World Indoors. I would love to get the outdoor record this season as well. I will be going into the competitions with a lot of pressure on me but that has never bothered me."
Cutts represented Great Britain in the World Championships in 2009 and the Commonwealth Games in 2010 but struggled with form and took a job loading lorries at a Next warehouse before quitting the sport in 2012. But six months later he returned and is now in the form of his life, having quit his job and started to receive some sponsorship and funding due to his excellent performances.
He said: "My attitude towards athletics has changed and I am much more dedicated. I train a lot more and I really work hard in training." His latest achievement, the British Indoor title, was made more special because it was in front of a lot of friends and family in Sheffield, although he was not able to celebrate straight away. "I felt ill all day and, when I walked off the track, I thought I was going to throw up but I didn't in the end. "Considering I was ill, I am pleased with my performance." It was the first time that Cutts has won the event after being the runner-up on four occasions.