Spare time is hard to come by for all student athletes. Finding downtime is ten times harder for decathletes like Sam Talbot. But as SPIKES finds out, the British youth record holder wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Sport is pretty much all I do,” Surrey-based Sam Talbot tells us of his life outside school.

When SPIKES catches up with the 16-year-old, it’s less than 24 hours since he set a championship record 5510 points to win the England Indoor Combined Events Championships U20 title. It's a score that puts him second all-time in the British U20 record books and he doesn't even turn 17 until next month. But there’s no time to bask in glory: the Caterham School pupil ducked out of an economics class to take our call.

“I think it’s nice to have the balance,” he says, shrugging off any suggestion of feeling tired. “You can get away from athletics and it’s not your whole life, even though it’s a big part of it. So it’s nice to have two sides.”

The athletic side of Talbot’s life has been busily blossoming in the last 18 months. On his way to the CR in Sheffield he set indoor PBs across the board, including a British indoor youth record 7.51m in the long jump. His electric start to this year comes on the back of a 2015 season in which he set outdoor PBs in all decathlon events. In June he scored 6971 to break Daley Thompson’s British U18 decathlon record.

Sam Talbot during the English Schools Championships ()

 Last year the 16-year-old broke 1980 & 1984 Olympic champion Daley Thompson's U18 national record in the decathlon

It’s a clear sign that the guidance of Eldon Lake, who last year took on the role of Talbot’s lead coach, is working. Lake is also father and coach to world junior heptathlon champion Morgan, and Talbot agrees that having a world-class age group talent alongside him is a massive boon.

“It’s been phenomenal,” he says. “[Eldon] works us hard, and it definitely pays off. Being able to train alongside Morgan obviously helps. She’s somebody to look up to and try to emulate in that sense.”

On Tuesdays and Thursdays Talbot skips class to join the group for sessions. He also trains at weekends and has begun to increase sessions on Wednesday and Friday afternoons, after school, where he is completing AS Levels in biology, economics and maths. Talbot is also an exceptional rugby talent. He played for his school team this season until Christmas, sometimes as many as two games in a week. He doesn't see the additional sport as additional pressure on time, but as another way to hang out with friends.

“Rugby is more with your mates, and a bit of banter with the lads. Athletics can be like that at times, but it’s definitely more serious and hard work,” the centre says. “Obviously [athletics] is still enjoyable. It’s definitely becoming more and more serious the further I go with it.”

Last year it took him to the Cali World Youth Championships, where he experienced mixed fortunes. He no scored in the 400m after he strayed from his lane, dumping him out the overall running. Yet he still ran a 48.5 in that race, and scored legal PBs in the 100m, 110m hurdles, pole vault and javelin. Had his 400m time been legal, Talbot would have finished inside the top eight – good going given most of his rivals were a year his senior.

Britain's Sam Talbot competes in the boys' decathlon at Cali 2015 ()

 Talbot started his decathlon in Cali with a 11.09 PB in the 100m and notched three more by the end of day two

Lane trouble aside, performing on the global stage provided valuable lessons. “It was a great learning experience, even though I didn’t get the aspect of being fully up there in the top fighting for medals,” he says. “But it was still great getting major championships experience. It’s really helped me this year, definitely given me a lot more confidence in my abilities.”

A fortnight after Cali he was in Argentina for a school rugby tour. That hectic summer schedule hasn’t effected his progression, as was evident in Sheffield. He will next wear a GB vest at a combined events international match in Salamca, Spain, next month. In the summer he will go after a medal at the European Youth Championships in Tbilisi, Georgia.

That means more non-stop training in ten different disciplines. But even with the growing pressure of study as he approaches the business end of his time at school, Talbot brushes aside suggestions of focusing on just one event. “I find decathlon a lot more interesting than just doing one event,” he says.

It’s all just part of the fun for Talbot: “school, sport, and hanging out with my mates”. When he puts it like that, you can understand the appeal.