ANDREW Butchart spent last month rubbing shoulders with some serious sporting superstars in Rio de Janeiro. Next week he will be back mixing it with random Scottish sixty-somethings in East District cross country events in Livingston and Stirling. The 24-year-old from Dunblane might have shaved five seconds off the Scottish 5,000m record as he finished sixth behind Mo Farah at the Olympics but he is clearly determined to keep it real.

The Central AC runner returned home from South America with a few aches and pains - a superficial wound to his foot caused him to over-compensate and strain the calf in his other leg - but thankfully it was nothing a week off wouldn't fix. He has been back in training for three or four weeks and is already determined to build upon the giant strides he has made during 2016.

In Edinburgh this week, at the official homecoming event for Team GB Olympians and Paralympians, Butchart was already targeting a medal from the 2017 world athletics championships in London. "The sky is the limit now," Butchart told Herald Sport. "We didn't think that I would finish sixth in the Olympic games at the start of year so why not a medal this year? There is no reason why we shouldn't."

While it is Butchart himself who has put in the hard yards, he can certainly rely on some enviable sporting sounding boards. Not only has he developed a rapport with Farah in practice and races, he received a last-minute pep talk in Rio from Andy Murray, to whom he has a close family connection. Andy and Jamie's dad Willie's partner Sam is his long-time girlfriend Caitlin's mum, and Butchart revealed last night that the two Scots managed to squeeze in a quick midnight debrief in the Olympic village shortly after the world's second best tennis player had retained his singles gold.

"I arrived in Rio on the same night as Andy's final," said Butchart. "When I went out for a run I saw that it was midway through the first set so I just sort of sneaked in, just on my own. I had a meeting that evening which I was trying to miss, but unfortunately I just couldn't. That was at the start of the last set, so I missed the end of the match.

"When Andy came back it was about midnight so he texted me to say 'are you in the village?' I said yes so he said we should meet up or whatever. I went down and saw him and we had a quick chat. He flew away [to compete in the Cincinatti Masters] I think about an hour later. His team couldn't come into the village, so I guess he was pretty alone in there like everybody else. I guess we both wanted to see a friendly face. It was nice to see his medal and try to steal it. But he caught me!"

Farah, meanwhile, simply seems delighted to have another British athlete capable of at least partially keeping up with him. After retaining his 5,000m gold he praised Butchart had looked out for him, much as Kenyan and Ethiopian distance runners often work in tandem, and the respect is clearly mutual. Butchart was eventually given sixth in Rio, but it would have been fourth had the previously disqualified Mohammed Ahmed and Paul Chelimo not been re-instated on appeal.

"I trained with Mo a lot this year and you see how good he is and how quick he is," said Butchart. "Honestly, he is so good. So talented. When you watch him in training you think 'there is no way that I could get a medal' but when it comes down to it people perform and people don't perform.

"Luckily, I had a great run," he added. "I did everything right. And when I was finding out that I was getting knocked up places who knew how close I would be to getting a medal! It is not the same when you are being given it, rather than earning it, but I was so delighted with my performance and hopefully I can bring it onto my next major games."

Something special is happening in Scottish athletics right now - Callum Hawkins' victory in the Great Scottish Run half marathon was another indication - and Butchart's success story is sudden enough that he doesn't take for granted the inspiration that he can provide to the next generation at events like the one at the state-of-the-art Oriam centre in Edinburgh this week.

"All of this stuff has been manic, it is all a bit new to me," he said. "I am not even a big name in the sport yet but I am learning fast. It is great to see kids who are interested in the sport and hopefully inspire them to achieve great things. Who knows, the next big talent from Scotland could be here right now and we might not know it."

Butchart accepts that piling through the mud of Livingston or Stirling in a Central Athletics Club vest might not quite hold the same cachet of an Olympic 5,000m final. "Rio was an amazing experience, I loved every minute and I am missing it for sure," he said. "I have definitely got the Rio blues. So I'm just going to chill, and do what I usually do, although I think there might be pressure on me to run the fastest time now."