BOLTON runner Tom Lancashire believes he can win the first medal of his career with British legend Steve Cram as his new coach.

Former 1500m world record holder Cram has agreed to take Lancashire under his wing after the Bromley Cross athlete split from previous coach Steve Vernon at the end of last season.

It is a huge coup for 31-year-old Lancashire to be working with one of the greatest athletes of all time at his distance.

The Bolton United Harrier believes the similarity in their running styles will mean Cram can give him the best coaching possible for him to reach his peak.

Lancashire has spent the last few years battling his way back to something approaching his best after his career was stalled by injury and illness five years ago.

Once a regular on the world-class Diamond League circuit, the 1500m specialist represented Great Britain at the Olympic Games and World Championships and was British number one for a spell.

He peaked in 2010 when he dipped under 3mins 34secs to become the 12th fastest Brit of all time, and last season he showed signs he may be able to return to that kind of form when he ran his fastest time for six years – 3:37.47.

Cram agreeing to coach him has come as a massive boost to the former Turton High School pupil and sparked renewed ambition to return to the international stage.

One of Britain's greatest-ever athletes, Cram knows what it takes to win races and medals at 1500m having been world record holder, the Olympic silver medallist and World champion at the distance among a breathtaking catalogue of honours.

The 56-year-old from Jarrow is not a recognised coach as such, and apart from Lancashire only has two athletes, fellow North Easterners and 1500m specialists Laura Weightman and Ross Murray.

Lancashire said: "At the end of last season I split from my coach and I just had a chat with Steve Cram at the Great North Run and asked him if he would be a bit of a sounding board for me, a bit of a mentor I could talk to.

"I have a good relationship with him and have always had a good chat with him.

"The more I talked to him the more I saw we had a similar philosophy and the same ideas.

"I had another chat with him and he said he would he happy to be a mentor, but that if I wanted he would be happy to coach me full time.

"If he thought I had been doing everything right so far in my career with my training he wouldn't take me on.

"He must see areas where he can make me better and he has a lot of experience in 1500m.

"It has already made a difference. I have run a 10k road race and was just one second off my PB.

"He thinks he can make me better and he just knows so much about how to prepare for 1500m races, how to win 1500m races and how to get in the best position possible in the best way possible.

"Listening to him he's got such a logical, common sense approach.

"I feel as fit as ever. I don't feel I am getting any worse, I believe I can run a PB over 1500m the this year.

"If I could run 3:33 this year it would be really good, and I think it is possible.

"Steve is an incredible athlete. In terms of our style of running and our physiology we are quite similar. We are not runners like like Sebastian Coe with a big sprint finish, we're more rhythm runners.

"We are going to South Africa for the whole of January for warm weather and altitude training. It will just be me him and Laura Weightman.

"I'm feeling so fit and strong and I'm going to try to have a good indoor season this year.

"What I really want to do is win a medal at the European Indoors in Belgrade in March. I've never won a medal before in my career and I want to give it a go.

"The trials are the second weekend in February and I'll be coming back from South Africa and looking to qualify and then go for a medal.

"It's probably the most achievable medal, and doing well at the indoors can set you up for a good outdoor season.

"Some people think you can't peak at the indoors and the outdoors but the people who came first and third in the Olympic 1500m last year also both medalled in the World Indoors earlier in the year, so it can be good."