IT WAS four years ago that Steven Burke swapped his boots for a bike -- and he's been riding high ever since.

Three consecutive national titles and medals in the recent World and European Junior Track Championships highlight the immense talent of the teenager from Colne.

It's fair to say that this former Foulridge Minor is now a major success!

The 17-year-old, currently studying 'A' levels at Nelson and Colne College, is a genuine contender to follow in the slip stream of the likes of Jason Queally, Rob Hayles and his hero Bradley Wiggins.

But while Wiggins may be his hero on the track, his real inspiration comes from mum Sharon, a former Great Britain cyclists herself. Sharon competed both at home and in Europe and obviously had inside track knowledge of what the sport had to offer.

"I was playing football for Foulridge and my mum and granddad said that I should try cycling" recalls Steven, a former pupil at Park High School. "So I thought why not give it a go."

It's been a rapid rise to success ever since.

"When I think how far I have come in so little time, it is quite amazing. My mum competed at the highest level so she has given me a lot of help in my career so far."

Steven joined the Manchester-based Sports City Velo club and, in 2003, won his first national title, winning the Under 14s Scratch race.

The following year, he picked up three titles, retaining the Scratch title and winning the Points and Individual Pursuit events. And earlier this year, he picked up his fifth national title when he won the Junior Kilo Time Trial.

However, his national success has just served as an appertiser for the main course of World and European glory.

For it was in Italy in July that Steven underlined his huge promise when he was a part of the Great Britain team that struck gold in the Junior European Track Championships. For Steven teamed up with Ian Stannard, Ross Sander and Andy Tennant to win the team pursuit title in a stunning time of 4 minutes 18 seconds to beat Poland. For Steven, it was an act of strength and character for he climbed off his sick bed to to compete in the energy sapping event.

The team hardly had time to catch breath when they were in action again, this time in the Junior World Track Championships in Austria.

And while the formidable foursome did superbly well to win silver, it was a case of what could have been.

For Great Britain went in to the final with the fastest time, setting a new British record in the qualfiers, and were favourites to beat New Zealand.

But Steve and Ross Sander touched wheels midway through the final and both crashed out to ruin any hopes of winning gold.

Steven added: "Winning a silver medal in the World Championships is a fantastic achievement. But we had qualified as the fastest team so were favourites to win gold. So obviously, we were all very disappointed when we crashed out."

Despite missing out on a second gold, Steven rightly rates both championships as the highlight of his fledgling career.

Now he is hoping more success is not too far around the corner.

Steven, ranked seventh in the country, is now in training for the National Senior Track Championships in October where he will come up against Wiggins.

He is then hoping to get picked for Under 23s Academy, where the top six young cylists live under one roof and train together for two years -- more Big Breakthrough than Big Brother.

"Obviously my long term aim is to compete in the Olympics and Commonwealth Games but that is still some way off. So for now, I am concentrating on staying in the Great Britain team and, once I turn 18, try to get in to the Academy."

Steven is still undecided about whether to pursue a cycling career on the indoor tracks or road racing.

But what ever cycle path Steven decided to follow then he is sure to make the right decision -- just like swapping his boots for a bike!