Nick Griggs left the World U20 Championships in Cali, Colombia back in August disappointed but still proud.
The 17-year-old from Newmills, Co. Tyrone made his first world final, finishing ninth in the 3000m but falling short of his goal to make the podium.
His first drip to altitude, some 3000 feet above altitude, and his first time competing against the dominant East African athletes proved a step too far.
“At the end of the day when you don’t achieve your goal, you’re always going to be somewhat disappointed,” Griggs says.
“It was actually something that needed to happen because it gave me a reality check.
“It’s given me a lot more drive and motivation to come back even stronger.”
Griggs is now determined to close the gap on his counterparts and get ever closer to them as the years progress.
“I definitely have the ability and hopefully the work ethic to bridge that gap.
“I want to prove that you don’t have to be African, or you don’t have to be Norwegian or Ingebrigtsen or part of those families.
“You can be a regular guy who didn’t start running until you are 14 or 15 but if you have the talent and the work ethic you can compete with everybody at a world level,” he added.
Griggs will face his next challenge this weekend at the 123.ie National Cross Country Championships in Rosapenna, Donegal where he will be looking to defend his Junior Men’s title.
Nick Griggs hoping for redemption at Euro Cross
The European Cross Country Championships in Turin are also fast approaching, a race in which Griggs will be hoping to have an improved performance in after finishing 16th in Dublin last year.
“It’ll be incredibly difficult to get up there in the top five.
“The main thing is the team title; I feel last year I did cost us the team title with a poor performance in Dublin.
“Hopefully, I can get a bit of redemption this year and we can take home that team gold.
“In the car on the way home that day I remember saying I’m done with Cross Country.
“There was a huge home crowd, it was really, really nerve-wracking,” he admits.
“I just had to pick myself up, one bad race doesn’t define you as an athlete or a person.”
Griggs now has a sponsorship deal with Puma and is in his final year of studying in Cookstown High School where he is taking A Levels in geography, religion and Btecs sport.
He has decided to take a gap year after but eventually plans to study Sports Science in Ulster University in Belfast close to where his coach Mark Kirk and training group is based.
In the short term, he hopes to have a big 2023 and make the European Indoor Championships in Istanbul over 3000m, gaining his first senior vest.
“It will be very difficult to make it with the standard in Ireland right now.
“The qualification standards are very fast but that would be a great experience to mix it with some of the best in Europe.
“The European U20 Outdoors are happening again, it’s my last year of junior so I’ve got to grasp that opportunity while I can.”
After running one of the top five fastest Parkrun’s ever in the UK and Ireland in Belfast recently and overcoming illness after the World Championships, it appears the Tyrone teenager is hitting form once again just at the right time.
Cross Country star Nick Griggs was speaking in advance of the 123.ie National Cross Country Championships which take place this Sunday, November 20th at Rosapenna Hotel and Golf Resort, Donegal.