Andy Vernon insisted sixth place was beyond his expectations after mixing it with a quality field at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
In the absence of Mo Farah, Vernon was the main home hope in the 5,000m final – and defied his miserable preparations to finish sixth in the second fastest time of his career.
The man who started his running career with Stubbington Green finished 10th in the 10,000m four years ago and will now reset his sights on next month’s European Championships in Zurich.
‘That was better than expected because my last six months have been really difficult,’ he said, after clocking 13:22.32.
‘I’ve reduced my mileage to 30 miles per week and while I’ve been doing lots to keep fit, it’s not the same as running.
‘I wasn’t coming here in that sort of shape.
‘But I ran my second fastest time ever, so I’m really pleased.’
Farah was meant to be the star of the show at Hampden yesterday but Vernon believes the eventual winner, Kenya’s Caleb Ndiku, could have denied the double Olympic and world champion another gold for his collection.
‘He’s pretty good, I would always be watching out for him in a championship and he’d have certainly given Mo a run for his money if he’d been here,’ added Vernon.
The 28-year old claimed a solid winter’s training had him looking to a packed summer of events with confidence.
But a hamstring injury and subsequent issue with his pubic bone kept him off the road and undid so much of his good work with coach Nic Bideau.
‘It’s a bit frustrating because if I’d stayed fit this summer I was really optimistic about what I could achieve, as my winter training had gone so well,’ he added.
‘To run this well, considering all the problems, just shows the sort of shape I was in.
‘It’s a busy year with two major championships just a couple of weeks apart but I’m looking forward with confidence now.
‘If I’d been a bit sharper I could have gone with those guys but it wasn’t sensible after everything I’ve been through recently.
‘I had to run my race and think a bit more long term.’
n Commonwealth Games England (CGE) leads and manages the participation of the Team England at the Commonwealth Games and Commonwealth Youth Games.
They work with sports, Sponsors and Sport England to support the development of athletes and their sports, and to achieve success at Games-time.