LONG JUMPER Stephen Mackenzie is keeping his fingers crossed that his American dream won't be hit by a delayed landing this summer.

The Pitreavie AAC star is ready to jump into a sports scholarship at Oklahoma State University, beginning in August, but his leap across the Atlantic could be hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite being based in Ullapool – 195 miles and almost a four-drive north – the 18-year-old joined the club at the beginning of last year's indoor season and went on to represent Great Britain at the European Athletics Under-20 Championships in July, having won gold at the England Athletics Under-20 Championships the previous month.

Almost a year on, and having recovered from patellar tendinopathy in the knee that disrupted his indoor season, he had hoped to travel to Kenya next month for the World Junior Championships, but that has been cancelled.

He is, however, hoping that he can start the four-year degree course, which will allow him the opportunity to develop his athletics career alongside his academic studies, on time.

"I'm just waiting to see at the moment if I'm going to get away in August or not and, if not, whether there's a season to look forward to," Mackenzie told Press Sport.

"I was due to start a pharmacy course at Strathclyde (University) this coming year but I bumped into an opportunity when I was at the European Championships. I got talking with some American coaches out there.

"I took a visit out there and I really enjoyed it. Right Track (a sports consultancy) took me through the whole process and I eventually just signed with them.

"It's four years out there and I think, for my situation, it's the best way forward to develop. Coming from Ullapool, where I'm not getting that same platform to progress, it was a great option for me.

"Who knows if I'll actually get out at the moment because the embassy's still closed – I haven't got my visa yet – and, looking at the news, America's got other problems at the moment.

"Every day that goes by, you're starting to sweat a bit more, saying will I get away? I'm trying to get alternative arrangements in place just in the event I can't get away in August.

"I've applied, I'm in contact with some of the coaches out there who are helping, but we're just not sure of the visa and stuff.

"It's just the embassy we're waiting on; everything else is in place."

When asked whether the prospect of experiencing a different country and culture was part of the appeal in heading Stateside, Mackenzie continued: "There's that as well but I just think, for me, it's the best way to progress both on and off the track, and I still get a good degree at the same time.

"It's just the facilities. You can see why athletes are attracted to it; it's a great system.

"They expect you to act in a professional manner, and it's the most competitive place to do athletics really, certainly other than as a professional. It's a great stepping stone because you'll be competing against guys, on a regular basis, jumping over eight metres.

"That's the environment I want to be in to get better.

"I just want to progress now. I'm at that time where I just want to get some hard work in and hopefully make the progression to a senior athlete."