ON the eve of his departure for America, England international middle distance runner Will Crisp has paid tribute to his long-time coach Bryan Clinton.

The 18-year-old Swindon Harrier and three-times English Schools’ medalist will take up a place at the prestigious Harvard University near Boston this month and while not cutting ties with Clinton permanently will inevitably have to adapt many changes to his training routine and lifestyle.

“It is a dream come true really to be going to Harvard,” said Crisp.

“It has a lot more benefits for me that Oxbridge here as the facilities are brilliant for an athlete and I’ll get time to pursue my athletics ambitions, which I am not sure I would have here at home.

“But academically it is also very good and I feel I will get a much broader education at Harvard rather than specialising in one area.

“I am really looking forward to it and it should be great fun.”

In contrast to many of Britain’s current leading young athletes, Crisp hasn’t received a full sporting scholarship to entice him across the Atlantic – though he will get some financial assistance - and had to sit academic exams to earn his place at the university.

That suits Crisp fine as it means he will be able to adhere broadly to the training regime he has followed so successfully under Clinton at the Harriers and won’t be at the beck and call of the university’s athletics team management and forced to race too often or alter his training workload too dramatically.

“It is a great shame to be leaving Bryan as over the past 10 years I have got to know him really well and his training works well for me,” added Crisp.

“He has put just as much work into me as I have done and I am sure that when my time at Harvard comes to an end I will come back to him.

“But it has not just been in athletics that I have benefited from working with Brian. He has taught me a lot of other stuff about how to work hard and apply myself.

“Bryan has had a big impact on my life and done so much for me. It will be a very sad to leave him but hopefully this will not be the end.”

Crisp will certainly relish the world-class facilities right on his doorstep in Boston as Harvard has its own indoor track so will give him plenty of opportunity to pursue his track career during the winter months.

“The track facilities there are incredible and I can get amazing support in terms of physiotherapy and gym work so that will be great,” said Crisp.

“I am really excited about getting out there now.”

Clinton is obviously disappointed to lose Crisp from his group but acknowledges it is a great opportunity for him.

“With my son Nyle having also studied in America I know a bit about their system and I think Will’s arrangement will work well for him,” said Clinton.

“We’ll be staying in contact and I think we will see him make great progress in the coming years.”