Birchfield Harrier Julian Thomas has had his dream of reaching next month's European Championships shattered after contracting viral meningitis.
The 19-year-old, in his maiden season as a senior athlete, had hoped to build on a promising start to his campaign and make his open-age Great Britain debut in Gothenburg, only to be diagnosed with the illness that can be life-threatening in its bacterial form.
He had hoped to compete at the AAA and European Trials in Manchester this weekend but, until recently, has been unable to get out of bed, never mind put in sufficient training to win his first place in the international squad.
That means he has had to withdraw from the competition and, in all likelihood, will not be able to race properly until the European Indoor Championships in Birmingham next March.
All of which makes the fact that he had set a personal best for the 100 metres and begun working with the national relay squad with a view to travelling to Sweden in four weeks' time all the more galling.
"It's very frustrating," Thomas said. "I am looking at the rankings in the 200m and seeing that the seniors are not doing that well. If I was there, it would have been wide open. I really feel I would have been in with a chance.
"I was really looking forward to Gothenburg. Training with the relay team felt like I was getting to know the senior guys, it felt like an introduction to being a senior. In the end, it was just a teaser for what could have happened," he said.
It is thought Thomas had become run down after travelling and competing in the United States in the first half of this year. When the pain from a severe headache spread through his body, he knew that something serious was wrong.
"I woke up in the morning with a headache and I am not the sort of person who usually gets them but as the day went on, it became more painful," he said.
"By 11pm, the pain started to go down my spine, through my pelvis and into my legs. It was pretty scary because, although I didn't realise what could happen, I had heard of people dying. I didn't know what was going to happen to me."
He went to hospital and was quickly diagnosed with the disease. He was given a lumbar puncture to relieve the fluid that was building up on his spine and spent the next ten days in bed.
"Even now, I am still a bit weak. I haven't been able to train but the doctors have said I can take it slowly again from Monday," he said last night. "There's not much I can do at the moment, my body would just not be able to cope with it and I'm not going to run until I am strong enough.
"There is no point me making myself vulnerable and letting people I normally beat have a go. If everything's not right, I simply won't compete but I do believe this will make me stronger in the long run."
Thomas will spend the rest of the summer trying to recover his fitness, choose a university and begin his prep-arations for the European Indoor Championships.