ONE of the southside’s top athletics hopefuls leaves tomorrow to compete for UK in the European cross country championships in Budapest.
He will test himself against more than 500 of the continent’s top under 20 athletes.
His Giffnock North coach, Dudley Walker will travel with him, and he believes the 19-year-old Glasgow Caledonian student has an “outside chance”.
Mr Walker told ExtraSport: “He kept himself powder dry during the trials, his objective was qualification and he has a lot more left in the tank. He needed to finish in the top six to qualify for the team and he looked comfortable.
“He still has a bit to go but these conditions are ideal for him. He has been putting in a lot of training but it has been marred by the weather during the last week or two. It hasn’t put him off, he has been training just as hard indoors.
“I am looking forward to going over to Budapest to support. He is really stepping up and has every right to be competing against the very best. His improvements over the last year have been drastic.
“I have trained a lot of great athletes but in terms of commitment and focus he is head and shoulder above the rest.
“He has a glint in his eye - he wants success and he is prepared to work for it”.
Luke, a former Mearns Castle pupil, can’t wait to test himself against some of the best in Europe.
He said: “It’s a brilliant opportunity. I am really looking forward to getting out there, and seeing what I can do. I have been taking my training a more seriously of late and have seen improvements in a few races. It’s my last year as a junior so I want to make sure I perform.
“I had a hard week of training last week and now I am just tapering. Great Britain have always won the team event so I want to help the team do that. My goal is to make it into the top ten but a medal is not outwith my reach”.
After Sunday, Luke’s next race is the Great Edinburgh cross country in January.
He added: “It’s not the type of sport where there is an off-season, it will be constant work through Christmas and through the entire year really. It’s worth the sacrifice”.
A medal in Budapest would cap a great year after Luke has already won a national cross country title in February and bronze at the Olympic Stadium in May in the British Universities championships.