DEREK HAWKINS may not go quite as far as saying he saw the lockdown, and the knock-on effect it had on elite sport, as a positive thing.

From a selfish point of view though, he admits there has been some good to have come out of it and there has been a silver lining for his own Olympic ambitions.

Before the pandemic hit, Hawkins was still searching for the Tokyo 2020 qualifying time for the marathon. He had one last chance, at the London Marathon in April, but when that was postponed, it looked like his bid to make the GB team was gone.

However, as we all know, the 2020 Olympics was postponed by a year and so Hawkins has once again set his sights on running the qualifying time and grabbing a seat on the plane to Tokyo to make his second appearance after his debut in Rio, four years ago.

The 31-year-old’s last marathon was a year ago, in Frankfurt, where he ran a personal best of 2 hours 12 minutes 49 seconds. With the pandemic almost completely shutting down the sporting world for six months, competitive opportunities have been extremely limited for athletes across the globe but finally, Hawkins can focus on pulling on his trainers again.

He will run his first marathon of 2020 in Valencia at the start of December, and is relishing the thought of getting back into competition mode.

However, the task of making Team GB for Tokyo will be no mean feat for Hawkins, who will have to go one minute 19 seconds faster than he has ever run over 26.2 miles to ensure he has the qualifying time.

This is no small ask, particularly with 2020 having been so disrupted, but Hawkins is confident the qualifying standard is within his reach.

“Valencia will be my first race for a long time,” the Renfrewshire native said. “I need to run a PB [personal best] to get the standard but I feel like I’m in a better place than when I ran my current PB so I just need to keep my fingers crossed everything goes to plan and we get good weather on the day.

“I’m feeling good. Training has been going well and I’ve had no real niggles or any setbacks like that so I’m looking forward to it.”

Lockdown has seen Hawkins experience a mix of emotions. His initial reaction may have been relief that the postponement gave him time to secure qualification for Tokyo but then this was followed by frustration due to the uncertainty that surrounded the entire sporting calendar.

Added to that, the goalposts over how to qualify for Tokyo kept changing, with World Athletics initially announcing the qualifying window was being frozen until December, before going back on that and bringing it forward to the start of October. By then, Hawkins had missed his chance to run the rescheduled London Marathon but he is content that he made the best decisions he could with the information he had at the time.

A make-shift gym in his garden hut, which he shares with his brother, and Scottish marathon record-holder, Callum, has meant he used his summer wisely.

And while, Hawkins admits, it was not always easy to keep his motivation levels high throughout the summer, there was always the memory of his performance on his Olympic debut in Rio, where he was not fully fit and finished 114th, driving him on.

“When I ran Rio four years ago, I was injured and so I just didn’t get the experience out of it that I wanted,” he said. “So every so often, it comes into my head that I didn’t show people what I’m capable of, that thought does creep in.

“That does drive me on – more than anything, you just want to feel like you’ve done yourself justice.

“If I could never run again, could I say I completely did that? Probably not, so that’s a real driving force for me.”

Another challenge for a number of athletes during the pandemic has been the financial side  – no competitions mean no appearance fees, nor any prize money.

However, Hawkins’ company, which he set up with his brother in 2016 and provides online coaching for marathon runners, was the perfect business to have during this time meaning he never had to deal with the threat of running out of money.

“I’m self-employed and I’m pretty lucky with everything that’s been going on.

“I’ve lost a couple of clients but it’s not been bad at all so compared to some other people, I’ve not been badly affected,” he said.

“And I’m generally quite tight too, so I’ve been fine. I actually think I’ve been secretly preparing for something like this to happen for years.”