CALLUM Hawkins got the full returning warrior treatment as he returned to the Team Scotland camp with a clean bill of health yesterday after an ordeal which Rodger Harkins, the scottishathletics performance director, said was a throwback to the darker days of distance running.

“I’d like to say a huge thanks to all the medical staff at Gold Coast University Hospital for their care over the last 24 hours," said the 25-year-old from Elderslie, who is thought to be staying on in Australia for a few days while most of the team return. "It’s great to now be back with my teammates."

Harkins, present at the finishing line at the Southport Broadwater Parklands, was as horrified as anyone by the scenes which unfolded in the final mile of a race which became a grim battle to survive amid 30-degree temperatures at the height of the hottest day of the year in this corner of Queensland. Hawkins was kept in overnight at the Gold Coast University hospital after collapsing twice in the closing stages of the race and surrendering his lead to native Gold Coaster Michael Shelley. As shocking as it was to witness a world class runner like Hawkins in such a state, it was a story Harkins had seen many times over.

“I’ve not seen that for years – and it is hard to watch,” said Harkins. “We were all just hoping Callum was OK. The marathon starting a bit later than normal probably had some effect. But it had the same effect on everybody, if you see what I mean. Lots of the front runners were falling back and Robbie Simpson was able to pick them off.

“Would I rather have seen an earlier start?" he added. "It’s unfair because you don’t know what the weather is going to be. It’s hard to predict it.

"We’ve been out here for six weeks and Callum has been doing a lot of really good training. So there’s no blame to be apportioned, in that respect. It’s just one of those things – but something I’ve not seen for a long, long time.”

It almost goes without saying with an athlete of Hawkins’ class that you can’t keep a good man down for long. “Without a shadow of a doubt, he’ll be back,” said Harkins. “Callum is an absolutely awesome athlete. He will be disappointed on reflection. But he is an amazing athlete who will definitely bounce back.”

In addition to five weeks acclimatising out in the Sunshine Coast, Team Scotland's support network had freshly chilled hats and drinks at each aid station. It remains unclear why Hawkins went a stretch of the race without a hat on and didn't take any water at the final station.

“There was meticulous preparation,” said Harkins. “The hats were there to cool the athletes. They had drinks and a cold hat to put on at the drinks stations. It was about keeping your head cool. We weren’t sure how it would work. But we got feedback, saying that when they took the caps off, they were still cool.

“He was only 200 metres away from an aid station when it happened," he added. "But, when that happens to people, they used to call it hitting the wall. When that happens, it’s horrible. Just horrible to watch."

As dramatic as it all was, it remained important that the storming run of Robbie Simpson for bronze wasn't overshadowed. Indeed the fact that the 26-year-old, much of whose best work has been done in endurance events like mountain running, came through only proves how tough the conditions were and how well prepared the Scotland team was. He too had been training with Hawkins for five weeks.

"It’s fantastic for Robbie," said Harkins. "I spoke to him when we were travelling to the race on the bus. He said he was just going to feel his way into the race and see how things developed. For Robbie, that was crucial and beneficial.

"Where other people were looking to push on and maybe make a difference, he just stayed and went Steady Eddie all the way through. While we all hoped that Callum was OK, I don’t want to take the shine off what Robbie’s done.

"Scottish Athletics have an endurance programme that’s been running a number of years now. It was initially led by Mike Johnson and the mantle has been taken up by Mark Pollard, who has been absolutely instrumental in getting Scottish middle distance and long distance where it is now."

Simpson's bronze was athletics fifth medal of the games, one more than they got in Glasgow. This was no mean feat considering that three of our top medal hopes - Laura Muir, Andy Butchart and Hawkins - for one reason or another were unable to contribute.

"When you consider that Laura was out, Andy Butchart was out, Jax Thoirs had to withdraw from the pole vault injured, there are some at home who could have come here and challenged, as well," said Harkins. "The athletes here have done themselves, their families and their countries proud.”