SAM Bennett admits he was flattered to be nominated for European Athletics’ Rising Star Award.

The Basildon Athletics Club member has been put forward for the honour following an impressive year on the track, which culminated in the 17-year-old winning gold at the European Youth Championships.

And Bennett, 17, is hopeful of claiming enough votes before Friday’s deadline to round off a groundbreaking year with another prize.

Bennett said: “The feeling of being nominated is not like anything I’ve felt before.

“My normal achievements would be something I do myself - I am there and present in the race at the competition - but this nomination was a shock and has left me very grateful and excited for the future.

“Despite there being a very strong field, I am honoured to have been given the opportunity to raise awareness of my achievements and it’s an incredible feeling to know that there are people out there appreciating what I do when there is rarely explicit support or awareness.

“The calibre of nominees is outstanding and includes Jakob Ingebritsen and Armand Duplantis, who have both made significant impacts in athletics in the past year.

“However, I am still very flattered to be nominated.”

And having enjoyed a hugely successful year on the track, Bennett has high hopes for the future.

The former Southend High School for Boys pupil added: “I am aiming to better my personal best over the under-20 specification of the 110m hurdles with the aim of being selected for the European Athletics Under-20 Championships, which will be hosted in Sweden next year.

“On top of that, the senior rankings will be an important task for me to compete at a high level.

“Then I will have the opportunity to make finals and race against the best in the country, which will allow me to gain some experience and run some fast times.”

Bennett believes he would not be in the running for the coveted Rising Star Award without the help of his coach.

“I have an extremely supportive training set-up, with my coach Steve Surety at Basildon Athletics Club keeping me fit and healthy for every competition,” confirmed Bennett.

“Not only has Steve kept me ready for what’s around the corner but he has also helped me to progress and transition to competing over the senior hurdles, in which I achieved third place at the Senior England Athletics Championships.”