North Devon athlete Phil Norman is stepping up his efforts to make it to next year’s Olympic games.

The 3,000m steeplechase runner has set his sights on Tokyo 2020 after being denied a spot at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha.

The 30-year-old has decided to take a work sabbatical in order to focus on reaching the Olympics, and has set up a crowdfunding page to help fund his season.

Norman sits seconds in Great Britain on both time and race placings, and came within four-tenths of a second of reaching the 8:29.00 qualifying standard for the World Championships.

The IAAF invited Norman to the games as the fastest athlete outside of the time, but British Athletics declined the invitation. UK number one Zak Seddon went to the games and reached the final, where he finished 15th.

Writing on his crowdfunding page, Norman said: "Whilst this decision was disappointing, it highlighted to me that in order to make the 2020 Olympics, I must cement my place without doubt, and leave nothing to chance.

"This has led me to make the decision to take a period of absence from work in order to focus my full attention to the Olympic trials and getting myself in the best possible shape to represent Great Britain.

"I currently work a full time physical job alongside my training. Of course, this has impacted the level of training I have been able to manage to date, and so this decision should give me the extra margin I need to make Olympic qualification."

Norman is hoping to raise £6,000 through crowdfunding, with the money contributing to kit, travel and associated fees that add up over the course of the season.

Norman added:"Whilst is it difficult to anticipate the exact amount I will need to fund my season, to put it into perspective, the lowest amount a funded athlete receives from British Athletics is £9,000.

"Whilst I love this sport, and have been able to fund myself so far, my leave of absence will be completely unpaid and I will need to find a way of funding the season with no salary.

"The decision to make this request has been prompted from the number of generous offerings I have received already from friends, and even strangers following my journey."

To support Phil Norman, head to his Go Fund Me page.