RUNNING IN THE FAMILY
Hawkins hopes Farah’s decision to relinquish Olympic marathon bid will put brother Derek on Team GB’s radar for Tokyo
CALLUM Hawkins admits to a mild sense of relief over Sir Mo Farah’s decision to give up his spot in the marathon at next year’s Tokyo Olympics for a return to the 10,000 metres.
His overriding feeling, though, is one of hope. Hope that brother Derek can now join him once again on the biggest stage of all and showcase his talent after seeing his build-up to a painful experience in Rio 2016 wrecked by a stress fracture at the base of his spine.
Callum is expected to be pre-selected for Team GB on December 16 after producing an exceptional performance in the World Championships in Doha when finishing fourth and coming within six seconds of a medal.
However, when he heard of Farah’s decision last Friday not to take up one of the three places going for the 26.2mile event, the 27-year-old’s thoughts turned immediately to his older sibling, who returned to the marathon distance in Frankfurt in October and recorded a personal best of 2:12.49.
‘It maybe makes me a bit more certain for pre-selection, which definitely helps,’ said Callum, who finished ninth in Rio. ‘You feel less uneasy.
‘I think, though, that is more helpful for my brother. It opens up another spot for him to possibly get in.
‘It would be special having two brothers together for two Olympic Games in a row. It would be also good for him to go and actually be able to run it fully fit.
‘Last time, he got a stress fracture in his sacrum nine weeks out from the marathon. His was arguably a better performance than mine in terms of just being able to finish it on the day.
‘He didn’t start running until two weeks before the race, so he had no actual running before it. He had trained in the pool but, with the marathon, it is the impact on the roads that will kill you.’
Callum feels there is more to come from him after that heroic display in Doha and admits pre-selection would give him the freedom to work specifically on the late-race kick that would heighten his chances of getting on the podium.
‘If I am pre-selected, I will focus on half-marathons up until March to work on my speed and work out the tools it takes to run a championship marathon with that big surge. After March, it’s all focus on Tokyo,’ he said.
The Kilbarchan AAC athlete, however, is concerned by news that the International Olympic Committee want the marathon to be staged on the final day of the Games — even though it has been moved to Sapporo on the northern island of Hokkaido.
Tokyo 2020 officials have switched the venue in the hope it leads to lower temperatures than those expected in the capital after 28 of the 68 competitors in the women’s marathon in Doha dropped out because of the heat, and 18 of the 73-strong men’s field failed to make it home. Hawkins, though, sees issues with trying to secure the same kind of support team that helped him execute his race plan at the Worlds when Team GB will have a full squad of track and field athletes competing 600 miles away in Tokyo.
‘If I am honest, I think it (moving the race) was a little bit of a knee-jerk reaction after Doha,’ he added. ‘I’ve looked at past average temperatures in Sapporo and it still has the potential to be as bad. By the looks of things, the IOC are pretty much certain it is going to be on the last day and the biggest worry will be getting team staff to come and help with the individual athletes — having them on drinks stations and whatnot.
‘It is usually hard enough getting them to the drinks stations when it is close to the event never mind 600 miles away.
‘Hopefully, the IOC might be a little more lenient in giving passes out and you could possibly have volunteers that the athletes know to help with the drinks stations.
‘The big thing in having people on the drinks stations is actually being handed the bottle.
‘There will probably be more athletes on the start line at the Olympics than in Doha, so trying to get a drink off the table is going to be pretty tough. Other countries are a bit more loose and wild with things than Britain. In Rio, we didn’t have anyone at the final drinks station and I couldn’t see my bottle because the team manager beside us was basically out on the course blocking my line of sight. ‘Getting your own, personalised drinks is key in those conditions. ‘Having physiologists and sports scientists helping you before the race is a big thing, too.’
Bond of brothers: Callum would love to see his brother Derek (far left) lining up alongside him for the Olympic marathon