IT WAS seventh heaven for Hyndburn athlete Nick Rawcliffe as he picked up a staggering seven gold medals at the Northern Veteran’s Championships.
The 41-year-old was running on his home track, Wilsons, and Rawcliffe, who works for an insurance company, raced to seven victories and a silver medal.
And they came in a variety of events for the all-rounder - 100 metres, 200m, 400m, 110m hurdle, 400m hurdle, the long jump and the high jump, with the silver medal being won in the 800m.
"When I entered the 800m the starter said to me "do you know how long this one is?" as he had seen me win all the sprints," said Nick. "That was the hardest one!
"I was the favourite going into the other events and I did expect to do quite well as I had won five gold medals last year at the Northern championships but I didn’t expect to win seven this year."
It capped a good end to an action-packed season and, what started as just a hobby for Nick has turned into a success story.
Prior to the Veteran’s Championships, the Accrington runner had competed in around 20 competitions throughout the season, including the Lancashire County Championships in May where he picked up bronze and silver medals.
Though Nick competes and trains on a regular basis, under the watchful eye of coach Phil Sumner, it was not originally his intention to join the athletics club.
"I’ve been at Hyndburn for seven years now, but it was my son who joined first and he has packed in now and left me to it.
"I just went along with him to help out, but then I started to join in and one thing led to another," explained Rawcliffe.
"To be honest, I hadn’t done any sports before so I think people were a bit shocked - although now they are chuffed for me."
Seven years later and the Hyndburn athlete still has plenty of enthusiasm for the sport, which he hopes to continue with for several years.
"It keeps you fit, and I also enjoy the social side of it. I have lots of friends at the club, and when you go to the competitions you see a lot of the same faces each time."
Despite collecting eight medals at the Northern Veteran Championships, Nick is aiming for an improvement on his performance at next year’s competition.
"I’m going to enter the Championships again next year and I hope to get better times as they weren’t that great this year."
And he has high hopes of moving on from the Northern scene and getting gold at the national event.
"I won a silver in the 400m hurdles last year at the National Veterans Championships in Birmingham and a bronze in the 100m Hurdles.
"Competing at those big events is a major shock from just local events but I would love to get a gold medal in a national competition and I think the 400m hurdles would be my best event."
With training taking place three times a week and lasting between an hour and a half to two hours, the humble runner will have a busy schedule before March when the season begins again.
However, for now Nick has most definitely earned his two week break.