Even for someone as levelheaded as Callum Hawkins, being described as a ‘great athlete’ by Britain’s best ever distance runner must have been a thrill. In January, Hawkins became the first Briton in seven years to beat Mo Farah in a race, while narrowly finishing second to America’s Leonard Kiror in the Great Edinburgh International Cross-country at Holyrood. After the race, Farah paid generous tribute to the Scottish athlete: ‘He just has something about him. There is a great future [there].’
Sir Mo is right – the 25-yearold from Elderslie in Renfrewshire has indeed got something about him. That performance came off the back of a stellar 2016, when he burst onto the scene to finish eighth in the London Marathon in April. A time of 2:10:52 saw him come home as first-place Brit in only his second 26.2-miler – and qualify for the Rio Olympics.
Not surprisingly, that race is still etched on his memory. ‘The marathon is such a brutal event, and coming up Embankment I was in a lot of pain, but with the crowd and me being first Brit, I can’t really put into words how amazing the feeling was.’