TOM Lancashire believes he and Andy Baddeley can help each other realise their potential as Britain’s best 1,500m duo for 20 years.

The Bolton star had a brilliant first full season on the track last year, making the Olympic Games and coming 23rd on the all-time British rankings list with 3mins 35.33secs.

He has had a superb cross-country campaign during the winter, while Baddeley has continued his relentless progress by knocking more than 50 seconds off his four-year-old previous best time at 5,000m to finish second in the Melbourne Track Classic.

That lifted Baddeley to 25th in the all-time British rankings for the distance, 10 places lower than he stands in the 1,500m all-time list in this country.

The 26-year-old Harrow athlete is three years older than Lancashire, pictured, and four years ahead of him in terms of experience, and the Bolton man is hoping for a glorious future in which they can push each other to becoming two of the all-time greats, alongside the likes of Steve Ovett, Sebastian Coe and Steve Cram.

With the pair only five and six seconds respectively behind the legendary Ovett, Coe, and Britain’s all-time 1,500m record-holder Cram – and still well short of their peak – some thrilling top quality duels could be on the cards in the next few years.

Lancashire recognises he is fortunate to have Baddeley in the same generation, and vice-versa, after two decades of British middle distance running being in the doldrums.

“He is giving me something to aim for,” he said of Baddeley’s world-class talent.

“I won’t stop until I’m the best. Hopefully, we can be good for each other over the next few years.

“I think I’m giving him something to think about as well.

“He ran very well in Australia on the track, and it went really well for me in Nottingham (at the World Cross Country Championship trials).

“He’s has had some great races but our times aren’t much different.”

Like last winter, the former Turton High School student from Bromley Cross has purposely targeted races over long distances during his preparations for the summer season.

And he has been delighted with his progress over the last three months when he has surpassed last year’s standards and surprised many, including himself, with his cross-country achievements.

Where he was 12th in the British cross-country rankings 12 months ago, he is firmly in the top 10 after coming a superb fourth in the World Cross Country Championships trials against all but one of Britain’s top cross-country runners.

He rates that run as the best of his career over the longer distance, beating four of his main rivals who had constantly been finishing ahead of him in domestic competition this season.

The Bolton Harrier hit last year’s target of reaching the Olympics when he and Baddeley were Britain’s only representatives, Baddeley reaching the final while Lancashire went out in the toughest of the four first-round heats.

The two runners are far and away Britain’s outstanding 1,500m talents, Baddeley the number one after running a lifetime best 3:34.36 while winning the star-studded Golden Mile at the Bislett Games in Oslo last season.

Lancashire is now shortening his race distances as the summer track season looms. He ran a 10k road race in Dublin a fortnight ago where he finished a creditable 11th against world-class opposition, and will continue his preparations for the World Championships in August by competing at the Brutus Hamilton Invitational meeting in the USA on April 24 where he will compete at 5,000m at the University of California venue in Berkeley which has attracted 16 Olympians. He will face some strong opposition including fellow Olympians Juan Luis Barrios of Mexico, Canada’s Kevin Sullivan and Jorge Torres of the United States. Their presence, along with that of the USA’s collegiate 5,000m champion, Bobby Curtis, could help Lancashire lower his personal best of 13:56.65.