Record-breaking Butchart and McColgan stride nearer Rio selection
LESS than 16 minutes of unrelenting graft stands between Andy Butchart and Eilish McColgan and a coveted appearance at the Olympic Games. A job half-done. A dream half-realised. However, yesterday in Hengelo, the Scottish pair gained the second of the two required qualifying standards with relentless runs in their respective 5000 metres. Now all they need is to finish in the top two at next month’s British trials in Birmingham and Brazil will assuredly beckon.
Butchart appears a man in a zone. Even losing a shoe on his final lap could not prevent his capture of a Scottish record that had belonged to Nat Muir since 1980, eleven years before he was born. Thirteen minutes and 13.3 seconds was still only enough for ninth but the performance mattered more than the placing. “What an amazing race,” he declared via Twitter. “Buzzing is an understatement.”
More of the same and he will join Mo Farah in the event in Rio. Ditto for McColgan who was sixth in the women’s 5000m in 15.16:51. There will now be no second-guessing the decision to switch away from the steeplechase in the cause of injury prevention. The Dundonian, restored and revived following a 22-month stint on the sidelines, may only have scratched the surface of her potential.
“I’ve only been back running a few months,” she said. “Even three weeks makes a huge difference. In Kenya I was struggling so I’ve taken off big chunks. But it will boil down to trials and who is in shape.”
Guy Learmonth and Allan Smith were sixth in the 800m and high jump respectively, short of the Rio standards, while Steph Twell, McColgan’s likeliest rival, was seventh in the 1500m.
Elsewhere, Lynsey Sharp moved into top spot in the UK 800 metres rankings with fifth place in her Diamond League debut in Rabat in 1:59.71, as South Africa’s Caster Semenya pulled out the quickest run in the world this year. However, the 2012 European champion confirmed she is unlikely to attempt to regain her title in Amsterdam in July. “The main aim is obviously the Olympics,” she said. Rio hopeful Jake Wightman won the 1500m at the Loughborough International where CJ Ujah beat British team-mate James Dasaolu to win the 100 metres in 10.06 seconds, inside the Olympic qualifying time.
Olympic champion Jessica EnnisHill made a belated return from injury with eighth place in the javelin, leaving her with 12 weeks to make tweaks ahead of her title defence. “My Achilles actually feels really good,” she said.
Freya Ross was 15th in the Great Manchester Run in 36:29.