COVID’S capacity for wrecking the best-laid plans continues undiminished. Just one day after Kane Elliott had been speaking excitedly about his first winter training camp in South Africa came news that a number of African countries were being placed back on the UK’s travel red list due to a new strain of the virus. Talk about timing.

The Falkirk Vics athlete’s plans to see in the New Year in Cape Town, then, may be in peril – Dubai is already being looked at as an alternative – but in the bigger picture the outlook still looks rosy.

After a lean couple of years as a result of virus restrictions and misplaced motivation, the former European Under-18 1500m champion is finally back in his stride.

After narrowly missing out on another European medal at Under-20 level, the 19-year-old was recently recognised as Scottish Athletics’ Under-20 athlete of the year, while there was also a significant milestone at GB level with a place on the Olympic Futures Academy.

Scottish middle-distance running is going through something of a purple patch and seeing Josh Kerr and Laura Muir earn Olympic medals last summer has given Elliott further incentive to keep working hard at his own craft.

“It’s definitely inspiring to see Scottish athletes doing well in the Olympics, especially middle-distance runners like myself,” he says.

“We should have a strong team at the Commonwealth Games as well when you consider the likes of Josh Kerr, Jake Wightman, Laura Muir and Jemma Reekie will probably all be there.

“You look up to these people and hope that one day you can get to the point where you’re racing them and hopefully also beating them! I’ve got a long way to go on that front but getting on the Olympic Futures programme should definitely help.

“Getting the award from Scottish Athletics was also nice and reinforces that what you’re doing is working and that I need to keep plugging away and putting in the work.”

Should the South Africa trip go ahead, it will represent a significant milestone for the teenager who, until this point, has been funding his career out of his own pocket. GB backing, he hopes, will make future planning a little bit easier.

“We’re meant to be going to South Africa for three-and-a-half weeks from December 31 to January 25 if it goes ahead,” he says. “Hogmanay over there will be nice if it happens! Although we’re looking at Dubai now just in case.

“I’ve been on camps before but it’s been off my own back when you’re planning and funding it all yourself. I had my first ever training camp in October in Font Romeu which was great and now that I’m part of the GB set-up the plan will be to try to go on two or three a year.

“So there’s a financial benefit from being in the programme and I should also get easier access to things like physios, scans, or testing should I ever need them. It’s a really important thing to be a part of.”

The commitments required to succeed as an athlete tend to go unseen. Elliott’s training sessions often follow – or take place during – his day job as a process control networker at the sprawling Ineos industrial complex. Handily, though, the Grangemouth sports stadium is right next door.

“I work Monday to Friday, half of it in the office and half of it out on site,” he says. “My training is 7pm to 9pm every night and I just run whenever I can fit it in, usually after work.

“If I’ve got any double shifts I do my runs at lunchtime. The track is right across from my work so I’m pretty lucky that way. Athletics is quite a big commitment but my work have been really good at giving me time off whenever I’ve needed it.

“The main benefit of going to Font Romeu – as well as altitude training – was not having to work, being able to train during the day and also get proper rest. I felt really fresh during my sessions. And being able to wake up a bit later was a benefit too!

“It’s just all about doing all I can to take things to the next level. If I want to be competing at elite events and trying for medals one day I need to put the hard work in now.”