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Speedy sensation bolts into fast lane
James Gallaugher. Picture: Michael Wilson/The West Australian

James Gallaugher is a Perth teenager on the move, who prefers to let his speedy feet speak for themselves - but they also have the athletics world talking.

Touted as sprinting's next Usain Bolt, James is already running faster than Jamaica's Olympic superstar did when he was finding his way through the sport.

On Saturday, the 13-year-old scorched a 200m time of 21.73 seconds at the Australian All Schools Championships in Townsville to set a new world record over the distance for his age.

It was 0.08 of a second faster than Bolt recorded when he was six months older and just 0.28 of a second slower than Josh Ross' fastest time (21.45) for any Australian this year.

But to talk to the nonchalant James on his return home to Perth this week, he barely concedes what the fuss is all about.

"It's just been fun," the Melville Senior High School Year 8 student said. "It feels pretty awesome to be in front but it's hard to explain, really."

James admits he already has dreams of emulating the feats of his hero, Bolt.

The teenage prodigy, who is still too young to run in world junior events, admits he feels the pressure of being the target of a concerted effort from rugby league officials to lure him to the game he played while growing up in NSW. His running coach Lyn Foreman believes many young athletes with elite potential are being pushed too far, too early.

"Every sport wants a fast runner," she said. "I would love all sports to treat their sports seasonally so young people can look forward to the next season of football or cricket or athletics so that we don't saturate them."

Mrs Foreman said James' raw talent rated as high as she had ever seen for his age.