Training alongside already established junior international names including Dwayne Grant, Chris Lambert and Timothy Abeyie, James was far from phased, and quickly established himself as a rising young talent, setting age group records the minute he began competing in 2000. County, regional and national titles were to follow in abundance as 'Ellington' became a household name in British Junior Athletics, and he quickly emerged at junior international level. In 2004 he completed one of the most sensational comebacks by any athlete after a serious hamstring tear looked to have destroyed his hopes in that year's World Junior Championships, in Italy. In just seven weeks, he came back to clinch second in the national championships and world junior championship trials, and gain automatic selection to the British team. Against all the odds, he beat the then British number one Leon Baptiste, to make the final in the 100m, finishing seventh in the world.
Moving up through the under-23 age-group, James continued his steady rise to World Class. He struck gold as the anchor man in the British under-23 4x100m relay team in the European Championships in 2007, and over the past three years has become a permanent resident in the British senior sprints squad. He struck gold in the 2011 European Team Championships after a scintillating run on third leg of the sprint relay.
The most moving aspect of James' story is that he elevated himself to a world class performer without a sponsor, lottery support, kit deal, or any kind of endorsements. In his coach's words, he has achieved what he has "...after simple hard graft, dedication, and determination...". He was hailed as the ultimate professional after the 2011 World Championships by Great Britain and Northern Ireland Chief Coach Charles Van Commenee, the year in which he won his first senior UK Championships medal, sprinting to 200m silver.
Having worked his way up the British rankings, he now receives relay funding from UK Athletics and was, in 2011, the athlete who made many headlines by selling his sponsorship rights on eBay in order to try to find funding for his dream to compete in the 2012 Olympic Games in his home city of London. A winning bid of £32,550 turned out not to be genuine but toiletries firm King of Shaves picked up the baton and offered him support.
In 2012 he took 100 metre gold in the British Universities Championships - the test event for London’s Olympic Stadium – and his first UK Championships title, in the 200 metres. He went on to compete in the Olympic Games in the 200 metres and then, in 2013, retain his British title over the distance. That season he also lowered his personal bests in the 100m and 200m to 10.17 and 20.42 respectively. Now he boasts personal bests of 10.13 and 20.44, both set in Florida in 2014 while winter training ahead of the inaugural World Relay Championships in the Bahamas where he was part of the British 4x100m quartet to clinch bronze, before going on to secure selection for the European Championships, where he won 4x100m gold in Zurich, and Commonwealth Games.
The Newham and Essex Beagles Athletics Club member sits in the top 20 of the all-time UK rankings for both 100 metres and 200 metres and is now coached by Linford Christie, the 100m gold medallist in the 1992 Olympics in 1992.
Quite simply, James Ellington is British, talented, hard working and one of the strongest believers in sport and its by-products any person could ever wish to meet. His occasional employment by Met-Track, a youth diversion scheme founded and run by coach John Powell, has seen him working with some challenging young Londoners, passing on his experience and mentoring them toward positive futures. It's a philosophy the Ellington brand holds dear - in keeping with his coach's motto, he truly believes in "Achieving Excellence by Endeavour"!
James, now a regular at the prestigious European Diamond League meetings and annual Great Britain Grand Prix showcase, continues to be a significant source of motivation for others. He has played no small part in advising and guiding the likes of European Junior Champion David Bolarinwa and others, as they aspire to follow in his famous footsteps.