A TOWN is gearing up to cheer on their newest Olympic hero just a year after he considered quitting the track.
Wallsend’s Ross Murray will be taking part in the biggest race of his life on Friday infront of 80,000 people in one of the heats for the 1500m at the London 2012 Olympics.
And the last 12 months have been a blur for the 21-year-old who was considering becoming a holiday rep after suffering from a series of injuries which left him off the track for more than nine months in total.
But in the last six months he set a personal best in Hengelo, Holland, to get within a step of the London Games and followed that up with a second place behind the country’s top 1500m runner Andrew Baddeley at the team trials in Birmingham.
Now residents and businesses in Wallsend are gearing up to cheer on the Gateshead Harrier, currently studying at St Mary’s College in Twickenham.
And he will have familiar faces cheering him on from the Olympic Stadium with his mother Bev Gosling, her partner, his father and his brother Barry all securing tickets.
Bev, who already has her UK flag and ‘Team Murray’ t-shirt packed ready to travel to London on Friday, said: “We’ve got tickets for his heat on Friday and then for as long as he stays in.
“I think he will make the semi finals at least, he will be disappointed if he doesn’t.
“He’s only 21, he’s not even a professional runner yet. He’s done the hard part by qualifying for the Olympics.
“I just hope he can keep his head and take it for what it is. I think he’ll do the north east proud.
“I spoke to him on Tuesday night and I think he’s starting to feel nervous.
“I told him to go out and run his own race. Not many people can say they have run in the Olympics.”
Ross’ local pub, the Rosehill Tavern, is backing the young athlete, putting a large flag on their outside wall and producing ‘Team Murray’ t-shirts for locals to buy.
Bev, of Bloomfield Avenue, added: “I knew the pub would get t-shirts but when they sent me pictures of the flag I couldn’t believe it, it looks brilliant.
“I drive down Churchill Street and there is this big flag with Ross’ face on it. To have your son’s picture on a flag like that is quite surreal.
“All the locals are behind him. Everyone wants him to do well.”
Among the injuries Ross suffered are a stress fracture and Achilles problem, but he has been able to put them behind him.
Bev said: “Ross was considering packing the sport in after injury after injury and he didn’t think his body was strong enough.
“But around November last year we sat down and talked and he decided to give it one more go.
“His first race back was in April and the last six months have gone as no one expected.”
Ross returned to England on Tuesday after a training camp in Portugal and is currently preparing in the Olympic Village.
Some bookmakers make him 125/1 to win gold, and Bev added: “The fact people are putting bets on him, he’s starting to feel the pressure.”
The former English schools champion returns home once a month and still has links with his first running club Wallsend Harriers, where his mother is still a member.
Ross’s 1500m heat is scheduled to take place at 8.05pm on Friday with the semi final on Sunday and the final on Tuesday if he can secure places.