Andrew Butchart has thanked British Athletics for taking a ‘gamble’ on him as he prepares to represent GB and NI in Italy and Russia this month.
The Scottish National Cross Country champion has featured at the Euro Cross and the World Cross in the past few months but is now making a significant impact on the track.
Butchart heads for Sardinia today to compete in the European 10,000m Cup on Saturday and then, a fortnight later, is one of six Scots who will travel with GB to the Euro Team Champs in Cheboksary. The Central AC athlete will race at 3000m in the June 20/21 event.
‘I have to thank them for taking a long-shot on me,’ said Butchart.
‘I’ve never actually run a 10,000m race on the track before now and yet I’ve been selected for the European Cup! I’ve done well in cross country and in 10ks on the road, however, and had good times at 1500m and 5000m and I’ve spoken a lot to them about the transition.
‘I came back from the World Cross in China in March and sat down with my coach, Derek Easton, and we targeted certain things on the track. But I have to admit it has been even better than I could have hoped for and I’m delighted to be racing for GB in Italy and Russia.’
A recent 5000m run in Belgium at 13.33 proved emphatically Butchart is in great form – it was the seventh best at the distance of all-time by a Scot.
‘We knew if I could get a good time there then the 3000m slot for the Euro Team Champs might be a possibility. There are still others who could have been sleected, though, so again it is good to get the nod. ‘It will be the first time I’ve been away with sprinters, throwers and jumpers which is exciting for me. Normally I am just with the endurance athletes! This is a strong GB team with some big names and you look to pick up things from speaking to and training with experienced people.’
Butchart’s elevation at international level has thrilled scottishathletics as an example to others of what can be achieved through hard work and sustained commitment to training.
Rodger Harkins, who guided Lee McConnell’s illustrious career, is director of coaching with the governing body in Scotland and was pleased to see Butchart, pole vaulter Jax Thoirs and discus thrower Kirsty Law join more regular GB internationals Guy Learmonth (800m), Eilidh Child (400m H and 4 x 400m Relay) and Lennie Waite (3000m steeplechase) in the GB team for Russia.
‘I am delighted we’ve a number of athletes selected for the Euro Team Champs with GB and NI by British Athletics,’ said Harkins.
‘We congratulate those involved and their coaches and it is pleasing, again, to have good Scottish representation in a GB selection for an international event. The more people we can have competing at this level then the better it is for their development and I’m delighted for all six athletes.
‘For the likes of Jax and Kirsty it will be a first taste of being involved with a GB team and travelling to a European event, while for Andrew that happens this weekend for the 10,000m. Eilidh and Lennie have experienced that before, of course, while Guy went to Prague for the European Indoors for his first such championship.
‘One or two of our more established athletes are not involved on this occasion, so what the GB selection for Russia proves again is that we are gradually growing the number of athletes we have as contenders for British vests and who can be competitive at a higher international level.
‘I think Andrew Butchart is probably a good example of that; he is making an impact and being rewarded with selections. All of that is very positive for athletics in Scotland and the motivation is there for those further down the pathway at our clubs to try and follow suit at some stage in the future.’
*The good news for Scottish athletes continued on Wednesday as GB named four in a team of 16 for the European Hill Running champs in Madeira in July.
Andrew Douglas leads the British mountain Challenge series and won the trial race last weekend to qualify automatically. He is joined by Robbie Simpson in the Senior Men’s team with Jacob Adkin (Moorfoot Runners) in the Junior Men and Catriona Graves (Garscube Harriers) in the Junior Women’s team.