It’s been a bizarre year for Matthew Bowser. He was the favourite for last year’s Lincoln 10K but illness, bereavement and injury conspired to throw his season off-course.

Now, despite those setbacks, the 27-year-old middle distance runner has regained his fitness and has his crosshairs firmly set on competing at the Olympics next year, and in 2016.

Bowser recalls: “Last year, I was in really, really good shape but four days before it [the Lincoln 10k], I got the worst cold imaginable.

A stint of altitude training followed for Bowser as he battled for a return to full fitness, only to be greeted with the tragic news of a close friend’s death upon his return.

“I don’t like to use it as an excuse, but a close friend from the running club [Lincoln Wellington Athletic Club] died, and that knocked me for six a little bit.

“I ran a few early personal bests in May, but I had no motivation and I was looking outside the box a bit. Then, to top it off, I went on holiday and injured myself.”

The lay-off ensured that Bowser was out of action until October last year, but since then the turnaround has been impressive, leaving him bullish about his Olympic aspirations.

“Over the last five months, I’ve been absolutely flying. I was aiming to go to the Commonwealth Games, and I was only a second off the qualifying time for the 1,500 metres.

“I never look back. I’ve taken a lot from it and a lot’s happened to allow me to believe I can make the Olympics.

Something that Bowser believes has worked in his favour is the absence of intense training he undertook at a young age, to which he attributes his general good fortune with injuries.

“To be honest, my initial ability – and I don’t like to say it – came to me naturally. I’ve been a bit of a lazy runner.”

Now with a two-year sponsorship deal in place that has allowed him to train full-time, the affable former Lincoln 10k champion believes that now is his time, and is willing to go to any lengths to make sure his dream is realised.

“As an 18-year-old I was third or fourth best in the country and I was only 15 or 20 seconds behind guys like Mo Farah. Unfortunately, I didn’t take the opportunity I was given.

“I had a lot of funding as a junior, but I was more inclined to drive around in nice cars and be an idiot.

“Now no-one’s holding me back, and at the next Olympics I’ll only be 33, which for a middle distance runner is nothing. [Haile] Gebrselassie is 37.”