The 800m talent is concentrating on running 100% this winter before starting at university next autumn

Max Burgin is currently taking a gap year from his education and hopes the bigger focus on his training will help him build on his stunning 800m performances.

Last year the Halifax Harrier ran 1:45.36 to break David Sharpe’s long-standing British under-20 800m record and this summer he improved the mark to 1:44.75 at Stretford just three months after his 18th birthday.

Not surprisingly he has been voted AW readers’ choice junior male athlete of the year two years on the trot and this week he was named under-20 male athlete of 2020 by the British Athletics Writers’ Association too.

Now, he hopes that spending a year away from his education so he can put all his effort into training will help him enjoy further improvements on the track in 2021.

Next autumn he will start at the University of Leeds to do a degree in history – a subject he got an A* for in his A-levels. There he is looking forward to using the facilities at the new Talent Hub in the city.

He anticipates hooking up with new training partners, too, although his home and long-time training base in Halifax will be less than an hour away. “It’s almost becoming another Loughborough in terms of it being a hub for athletes,” he says of Leeds.

So is he enjoying his gap year right now? “We decided to go a gap year before the pandemic and it’s worked out well that I didn’t go to university this year. I don’t think it would have been the most ideal circumstances to go.

“For the first time I have no school work and I’m 100% focused on training,” he says. “I’ve been enjoying it more too, I think. With everyone shut indoors most of the time with not much to do, it’s been good for me to have my training to focus on.”

READ MORE: Max Burgin runs 1:44 UK U20 800m record at Trafford

He is also working hard this winter to solve a nagging injury niggle in his groin area which has bothered him for the past couple of seasons.

“It’s partly why my racing has been pretty limited and I only did about three races last year and not many this year either,” he says. “It’s in the groin area. But it’s not one specific issue really.

“It’s a weakness in that area which means I keep getting pulls and minor injuries and stiffnesses in that area which was hampering training. But we’re getting to the bottom of it now that I’m starting a strength and conditioning programme which is progressing really well. And I hope to be back in more consistent training by next year.”

Despite the problem, it has not seemingly hampered his form. His 1:44.75 not only improved his British under-20 record put him No.20 on the national all-time senior rankings ahead of athletes like Kyle Langford, Curtis Robb and Matt Yates.

Was it a surprise to run so fast? “I knew I could run as well as I had the previous year,” he says. “I’d struggled with the same issue the previous year and still run 1:45 so I was hopeful I could do quicker. The rest of the season was disappointing for me because I wasn’t able to build on that but hopefully next year everything bodes well.”

The Olympic Games in Tokyo and World Under-20 Championships in Kenya are natural targets. But he says: “I just need to do what I’ve been doing for the past few years and show improvement. But I’d also like to make a better account of myself in these faster races where I’m not the quickest in the field.

“If I get the chance to go to a Diamond League, I’d like to be more competitive. Racing is a skill that I need to polish up as opposed to just being able to run fast.”

» This is an edited version of a feature that first appeared in the December issue of AW magazine, which you can buy here

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