The Datchet star is currently studying at America’s Princeton University after being crowned European junior single sculls champion this spring – one of many successes that saw him nominated for SportsAid’s prestigious One-to-Watch Award, back and bigger than ever after a three-year absence to celebrate Britain’s brightest sporting prospects.
And while Marcus was unable to attend the star-studded awards ceremony in London recently, his Windsor-based coach Mark Wilkinson insists he has everything it takes to climb to the very top. Mark, who was joined by sporting royalty including athletics great Christine Ohuruogu at Sea Containers House, said: “He’s a world-class athlete, so in many ways it’s my privilege to be coaching him.
“I’ve coached him for five or six years. He started with me when he was an absolute beginner and the process he was involved in wasn’t just me, it was a couple of other coaches. Once he got up and running it was very clear that Marcus was an absolute racer and competitor, he just loved winning and he’s the most competitive athlete I’ve ever seen.
“He’s not the biggest rower, but he has absolute fierce determination to win everything, to be the best he can be and to train hard. He’s motivated to go out there and test himself at the very highest level. He’d do anything he could to put himself in a better place on the start line to find out just how good he can be. It’s an absolute pleasure to work with that kind of athlete.”
SportsAid’s One-to-Watch Award has gained a strong reputation for identifying the best up-and-coming prospects in Britain since its launch in 2006. Previous winners, including Tom Daley OBE, Hollie Arnold MBE, Courtney Tulloch and Alex Yee MBE, have already amassed over 50 senior medals from Olympic and Paralympic Games, World and European Championships, as well as Commonwealth Games,to establish themselves as household names.
There may be big footsteps to follow, but Mark has no doubt that Marcus holds lofty ambitions for his future after a confidence-boosting year. He added: “It’s been an incredible year for Marcus. We had some early very good success at the British trials at Under-19s where he won that by a minute, which is completely unprecedented. That victory allowed him to go and do a senior trial against all the Olympic champions and Olympians.
“He came second there as well. The year started with some internal racing within the British team which really showed he had real potential in the sport. The ambition is to be in the British team, go to World Championships at senior level and to take on the challenge to win gold medals and ultimately go to the Olympic Games and be an Olympic champion. That’s his mission, that’s what he wants to do long-term.”
SportsAid’s Celebrate the Next event, kindly supported by Royal Bank of Canada, was hosted at Sea Containers House in London thanks to Hogarth Worldwide. Please visit www.sportsaid.org.uk to find out more.