Firefighter Antony Ford knows first hand the dedication it takes to achieve athletic glory.
For the runner, who competed for England as an 18-year-old and who saw his promising career cruelly curtailed by injury, can count Olympic gold medal winning star Mo Farah among his former training partners.
Now Antony is stepping back on to the track and gunning for glory of his own – and is appealing for help from Gazette readers in finally achieving his dream of competing in a major athletics championships.
Antony, 31, is hoping businesses will back his bid to compete in events such as the next Commonwealth Games in 2018.
Antony, of St Vincent Avenue in Blackpool, hopes to use the money for kit in a bid to realise his dream after a sponsorship deal ended.
He said: “My hope is to make a major championships – whether it be the Commonwealth Games, European Championships or Olympics.
“I was with a backer and I’m hoping to get another sponsor, really. I need support to mainly fund things like kit.
“At most of the races the organisers pay for your accommodation and travel expenses so that is not an issue as such, but you do end up getting through quite a lot of trainers!
“My aim is to compete in the 10,000m.”
As an 18-year-old, the former pupil at Warbeck High School – now known as Unity College – ran for the England team.
His exploits saw him run for the University of Montana and University of Wisconsin in America as a teenager – winning the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championships in 2005 and meeting former President George W Bush.
The same year he was rated the number one athlete in his age group in Europe, but a succession of injuries led to him missing out on his international dream.
After returning from America, Antony joined the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Athletic Club, before becoming a member of Manchester-based Sale Harriers in 2010.
He added: “As a junior I ran for England and then ran for the Great Britain Under-23 squad. I won the British National Championships in 2008 and also set a time of 2:17:16 in 2011 for the marathon.
“However, I have missed out due to injury setbacks.
“I’m trying to achieve my goals of representing Great Britain and England. This is the start of it – I am 31 years old – this is my last chance.”
Antony, who runs 70 to 80 miles a week and takes part in competitions, fits his training in around his work as a crew manager for Lancashire Fire and Rescue, based at Fulwood, Preston.
He admitted he has the next three to four years to make a national squad and compete once more alongside Mo Farah.
He added: “When I was racing in America I got quite close to him in races, but his career has now taken off.
“People knew he was a special athlete, but no-one could have imagined he would win double gold at the Olympics in London.”
Anyone interested in helping Antony should email firstname.lastname@example.org.