CALLUM Hawkins was last night celebrating his pre-selection for next summer’s Olympic marathon in Japan – and backing his older brother Derek to join him in on the start line.

While his nomination by British Athletics for the event, which has been moved from Tokyo to Sapporo, was hardly unexpected in light of his epic run to fourth place at the recent World Championships in Doha, confirmation of the 27-year-old from Elderslie’s spot yesterday means that he is the first British athlete to have formally booked his place in the global showpiece.

It will allow him to run no distance longer than a half marathon in the next six months – one of which is likely to be in Japan, although not at the Olympic venue – and free up selection spots in the official qualification event at the London marathon in April.

Derek will have his eye on one of them, having happily returned to form and fitness after a horrific run of injuries.


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“The Olympics are special in sport so to hear you have been selected for them is a great feeling,” said Callum. “It’s my second time after Rio in 2016 and getting the pre-selection for Japan is what we were looking for in terms of the planning between now and then.

“This means I won’t need to run another marathon between now and the Olympics – the plan will be to do a couple of half marathons and blocks of training. To make the Olympics twice with GB and NI does feel good,” he added. “It’s something that seems so far away when you are a youngster growing up and competing in club races in Scotland.

“If we look back too Hampden and Glasgow 2014, for instance, when I ran the 10,000m on the track, even making the marathon for Rio in only two years looked a bit of a long shot.

“So I feel I’ve progressed a lot in the past five years and been to major championships.”

Derek finished 114th in Rio, some 20 minutes behind world record holder Eliud Kipchoge, but even that was an incredible achievement considering the painful stress fracture he was suffering from at the base of his spine.

His journey back to fitness has been long and hard but a 10th-place finish at the Frankfurt marathon in September in a personal best time of 2.12.49 was a great sign that he is back in the ballpark for Olympic qualification.

“There are slots available now at London and hopefully Derek can make it,” said Callum. “The Olympic standard for British Athletics is 2:11.30 and I think he is capable of that. He ran a PB in Frankfurt and I think he had a bit more to come that day. So we will see how that goes with him and a couple of other Brits come London.

“I’d love him to be there,” Callum added.

“We were both selected for Rio in 2016 but at that time he had a real struggle with injury in the last few months and it was all about just making the start-line. It would be a nice achievement for two brothers to make it twice to the Olympics in the marathon.”


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As for Callum, first European finisher in ninth in Brazil three years ago, he is targeting another top-10 finish, although he knows the field is likely to be even tougher than it was in Doha, where he finished fourth in the world championships for a second time.

“I’m not in any doubt that the level of competition in Japan will be even tougher than Doha,” said Callum, recently crowned Scottish athlete of the year.

“That’s just the way I feel because I’m sure the very

fact it is the Olympics will motivate people even more and there will be greater depth to the top 10 or the top 20 or whatever.

“Making the top 10 again will be really tough and the conditions could be difficult, too, even though they’ve moved it,” he added. “I won’t have any fear, though.

“I’ve been out to Japan before. I was due to run the Fukuoka Marathon at the end of 2018 but a hamstring injury prevented that, but we went on the trip anyway and got an idea of the place.

“We’re still firming up the race-plan at the moment but one of the half marathons could be in Japan, although not at the Olympic venue.”