ANDY BUTCHART admits he is happy with his fitness levels as Tokyo 2020 approaches following his fifth place finish in the European Cross-Country Championships in Lisbon at the weekend.

Butchart’s performance was integral in helping Britain win team gold in Lisbon and the Central AC athlete declared himself happy with the way he finished 2019. And with the 2020 Olymic Games less than eight months away now, there is little doubt about what the 28-year-old is focused on from now until next summer.

“At this time of year for me, leading into Tokyo, the aim is to be as fit as possible but you want to be on the curve so that you have more to improve on over the net year,” Butchart said, talking to Athletics Weekly.

“You don’t want to be in peak condition, not for me anyway, at this event. So it’s nice to know that not in peak shape, I’m doing okay.”

“I’m buzzing (about Olympic year). That’s this year done so it’s one focus now, straight to Tokyo. The date is in the diary, everyone knows what the plan is. It’s exciting.”

Butchart’s fellow GB runners Ben Connor, who finished 9th, and Kris Jones, who was 22nd, did enough to snatch gold from second-placed Belgium and the Scot revealed he was somewhat surprised at their victory.

“I don’t know if I expected team gold,” he said.

“You look back and you can see all these Spaniards coming through and it’s always decided by a couple of places.”

And as top-finishing Brit, the 2017 bronze medallist was happy with fifth place this time around.

“The tactic was to go out as reserved as possible but you can’t give too much of a gap because it opens so fast on these short hills,” he said.

“I somehow finished fifth on a course that didn’t really suit me so I’m pretty pleased.

“Cross-country is such a different category of sport that anyone can win. It’s great, it’s really exciting.

“It’s a good way to end the year – it’s a good test to see where you’re at leading into the next year. It doesn’t matter how good at cross-country you are - fitness shows, especially on that course. If you’re fit, you’re going to run well and if you’re not fit, you’re f**ked, you’ll be at the back.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Cross-Country champion, Adam Craig, smashed his 10km personal best to win the Telford 10k at the weekend.

Craig, of Inverclyde AC and who won the Scottish title in October, crossed the line in 28 minutes 31 seconds, slashing 36 seconds off his previous best. He is now the third fastest Scottish runner over 10k ever, behind Allister Hutton and Butchart.

Craig’s run also saw him claim the course record.