Student and middle-distance running sensation Matthew Stonier reflected on his meteoric rise last Sunday over 18 holes of golf, savouring his shock victory in the Nike Emsley Carr Mile from the night before.
This Saturday the dream continues for the Loughborough student with his Diamond League debut at just 20 years old in a stacked men’s 1,500m field in Birmingham.
Stonier is Great Britain’s latest young star to emerge amid a renaissance in the 800m and 1,500m, headlined this weekend by Olympic silver medalists Keely Hodgkinson and Laura Muir, and Olympic bronze medalist Josh Kerr. Domestic competition is fiercer than ever and a tantalising prospect ahead of this summer’s main attractions: the World, European and Commonwealth Championships.
Stonier eclipsed Piers Copeland, a European Indoor finalist, in a photo finish at Parliament Hill to log a blazing 3:54.89. While he would be forgiven for admiring his impressive time, focus has immediately switched to Saturday and another leap in competition, with Kerr among eight Olympic finalists, while Samuel Tefera, the World Indoor champion, also features.
“It’s fairytale stuff,” Stonier tells the Independent. “That’s the dream, to compete in Diamond Leagues and against the top guys. Josh Kerr and Jake Wightman [who competes in the 800m on Saturday] are the kind of people you’d ask for an autograph or a photo with. But next thing you’re racing against them. It’s a different mindset, you’re one of them but you don’t feel like it. To race against them now is crazy.”
Last weekend’s breakthrough has left Stonier reconsidering his trajectory to the top of the sport, as he prepares for second-year exams in his geography and sport science degree. There is the temptation to seize every opportunity that will soon come his way, particularly given how his event is fast becoming a young man’s game after the dominance of Norway’s Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen, 21, and early success for American phenom Cole Hocker.