Callum Hawkins has potential yet untapped but the Scot should now be considered a legitimate contender for Olympic gold, UK Athletics supremo Neil Black has claimed.

The marathon specialist, who was fourth at this summer’s world championships in London, has been rewarded for his ascent into the elite with a place on the upper Podium level of the sport’s world-class programme which was unveiled yesterday.

The 25-year-old – whose current main priority is pursuing the Commonwealth title in Australia next spring – is among 14 Scots included in the full 112-strong Lottery-funded squad with Laura Muir and Lynsey Sharp also in the highest tier. And Black has forecast that Hawkins will take further giant strides forward by the time the Tokyo Games arrive in 2020.

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“There’s lots more there,” the former Bellahouston Harrier said. “He’s an exciting competitor. I love seeing him run. He goes to the front in every race and puts himself in with a chance of winning. That’s the kind of attitude we love and I think he’s only just beginning to show his potential.”

Middle-distance trio Andy Butchart, Eilish McColgan and Jake Wightman are on the second tier of Lottery backing with world 4x400 medallists Eilidh Doyle and Zoey Clark named in the relay grouping.

While Scotland’s world para athletics champions Sammi Kinghorn and Stef Reid join Rio 2016 medallists Jo Butterfield, Libby Clegg and Maria Lyle in the first tier of Paralympic funding with marathon runner Derek Rae on the second level.

However, the biggest surprise is the inclusion of Farah who has signalled he will chase a fifth Olympic medal in Tokyo after previously claiming his international career was over following his world 5000m gold in August. That the 34-year-old has no plans to make himself available at any other championships means the backing he receives, for medical and training costs, moves the governing body into unchartered and controversial territory.

But Black – who denied claims that controversial coach Alberto Salazar will retain any future oversight over Farah – believes it is worth a punt on the Briton succeeding in his concerted bid to succeed at the marathon despite a relatively ignominious one-off attempt at the distance three years ago.

“There is absolutely no doubt in our minds that he can be competitive in a championship race. But how fast he can run, and therefore how competitive he can be in a big city marathon – and particularly those that are run at ridiculously fast paces, we just don't know until he applies himself to it.”

Scottish pair Kirsten McAslan and Chris Bennett are among 24 athletes dropped from funding while there is no room for Laura Weightman or Chris O’Hare despite their impressive form in 2017.