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butchart ready for british championsips

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22 June 2016

Over the past year Andrew Butchart has experienced a meteoric rise to the top echelon of British Distance running.

That unstoppable run has seen the Scottish athlete eclipse a whole host of personal bests and national records to confirm himself as the leading light in the next generation of British distance runners.

Now in the midst of the best running form of his career, Butchart finds himself one race away from a life changing chance to compete in the Rio 2016 Olympics.

With two Olympic qualifying standards safely tucked away, qualification looks a very possible reality, meaning Butchart requires a first or second placed finish come The British Championships this weekend to ensure he achieves a goal he has worked tirelessly for.

Rewind back to 2015 when Butchart was experiencing a breakthrough season on the track. After a busy schedule that included the European 10000 Cup and the European Team Championships, he could only manage a fourth place finish in the British Championships. In that race he placed behind Tom Farrell and Andy Vernon, both of whom will be out to spoil his chances on Saturday.

But this year Butchart believes he is a completely different beast as he prepares to compete in the most important race of his life. “I had a lot of opportunity last year leading up to (the British Championships) with the European 10k cup and European Team Championships. I had done a lot of travelling and wasn’t best prepared. This year we decided to run fewer events and focus on training to give myself the best possible chance.”

That confidence is a trait acquired by a series of record breaking runs which ultimately saw him break the 36 year old Scottish 5000m record. That record, previously 13:17:90 held by Nat Muir, was comprehensively broken in Holland by over four seconds in a time of 13:13:30. Although it was never a focus of Butchart’s to break.

“We knew I’d be running fast times and that 13.13 was possible but we never thought about national records, I was just so focussed on making the Rio qualifying standards.”

Over the course of 2016 so far Butchart has broken 6 personal best’s across the 3000m, 10000m and 5000m where he also holds the fastest time of the year.  He couldn’t have timed it better if he tried, hitting the best form of his career with an Olympics on the horizon.

Although clearly naturally talented, running fast times has been a product of hard work and training as well for Butchart, whose background lies in cross country running. It’s this background, battling the winter elements on the muddy footpaths of cross country courses across Britain which Butchart attributes to his recent successes: “In my opinion when it comes to track racing, strength always beats speed, and you gain your strength through cross country training and winter training out in the rain and the mud, skills that you can then transfer over.”

Asked what other factors have contributed to this transformation, Butchart could only heap praise on his Central Athletics club coach. Derek Easton, who ran with Nat Muir and even appeared as an extra in Chariots of Fire, has coached Butchart for his entire running career and has proven to be a hugely positive influence on Butchart: “He is the only coach I’ve ever had and he has done a fantastic job, he is definitely the mastermind behind what has happened to me this year so I have to thank him a lot.”

For the 24 year old Butchart, the thrill of competition is what he loves most about athletics and it drives him on to achieve more. Looking forward to this Saturday he recognises it’ll be a tough race and that Rio qualification is no given. “I would love if the race was tomorrow because it’s all I want to do.  It would be a lifetime achievement to make it to Rio. A lot of athletes have stepped up their game just like I have though so it’s going to be a tough race.”

The men’s 5000m at The British Championships takes place at 15:10 on Saturday.

To purchase tickets for The British Championships please visit http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/2016_Athletics_Season