Archie Davis explains what it was like competing at the IAAF World U20 Championships in Poland earlier this year
Being woken by your alarm at 3:30am on a Sunday morning is never a moment worth savouring – unless you’re heading to the IAAF World Championships! That’s how the trip started as me and the rest of the GB team met at Heathrow Airport for our 6:30am flight towards the IAAF World U20 Championships in Poland where I would contest the 1500m. It was the second time I had ever put on the Great Britain vest, but this was my first taste of competing against the best athletes in the world!
After two short flights, we arrived in Bydgoszcz. The weather was warm and ideal for racing. We found our accommodation, which was very comfortable and had everything we needed to prepare for competition. From here on, the trip had truly begun – the team captains were assigned and their speeches were given. Only here did I realise that I was truly part of a World Championship team.
The words from both captains were truly inspirational and I suddenly felt ready to perform. Finally, we were given our race bibs, a moment I had been eagerly awaiting! The words ‘DAVIS’ printed across the paper reminded me just how proud I was to be there; pinning it to my vest looked professional – this was it!
I only had a day to get a feel for the atmosphere, so I took a short coach trip to the Zawisza Stadium with the rest of the team. The size of the stadium was daunting. With 25,000 capacity, it was the largest track I had ever competed at, but it only made the experience seem even more special.
I then took a look at the warm up track; never did I anticipate how crowded it would be! Everywhere I looked the complex was crammed with elite athletes, full to the brim with world-class talent. The Jamaican sprinters were going through baton changes, Kenyan distance runners were completing endless laps of the track, it was exactly how I imagined a senior World Championships or even an Olympic Games to be. Once I had seen the full setup and visualised the following day, I headed back to camp before the nerves and pressure were upon me. I prepared my race bag, hydrated and took an early night.
The big day was here as I was woken by another alarm at 7:00am. Everything was ready, I just had to put my kit on. I had my simple breakfast of scrambled eggs on toast, met the team managers for a final kit check, and I was on the coach ready to roll. The nerves had already kicked in and as I sat in the team tent at the warm up track I tried to take my mind off the race while I still could, but before I knew it, it was time to warm up.
My time was here. I prepared exactly how I normally would and entered the call room at 10:00am, spiked up and in full race mode. It was a strange experience, sitting in a room full of my rivals, all of them speaking different languages, but it allowed me to focus on myself. We were called to the track, given time to do one last stride and then we had to be on the start line. Inside the stadium I spotted a small pocket of GB athletes high in the stand, cheering me on, but before I knew it we were off!
Unfortunately, the race didn’t go as I had planned. After being in third position right until a lap to go, and after two and a half laps of fighting off opponents, my right foot was clipped just as the bell sounded. I tumbled into lane four and barely managed to keep on my feet. The chance of qualification was over. I finished the race in 10th position, and although my competition had finished, the rest of the trip was just as exciting.
I had an exceptional time in an amazing city, cheering the team on to some incredible performances. The World U20 Championships was the best experience I have had and the thought of being able to feature in many more trips like this keeps me hungry to achieve even more success!
» For more on Archie Davis see his Power of 10 profile here