Thursday, 18 May 2017 11:03

Andrew Butchart: I am the underdog, but Sir Mo Farah is not invincible

Scotland's Andrew Butchart has been training at altitude in Flagstaff, Arizona alongside Sir Mo Farah, and his sights are firmly set on overtaking the quadruple Olympic gold medallist.

Butchart ran alongside Farah at the Rio Olympics, finishing sixth behind the 5,000m champion.

Yet he insists that Farah can be beaten at the World Championships in August.

"Nobody is invincible. It's easier for me because I am the underdog," Butchart told BBC Scotland.

"It's going to be hard. Obviously it's Mo's last ever World Championships, so the spotlight is going to be on him.

"But I could potentially get a medal there, who knows?"

Scottish endurance athletes are currently sitting at the top table of British Athletics. Laura Muir, Lynsey Sharp and Eilish McColgan have all won medals at major games, while Chris O'Hare and Butchart represent further success stories.

All five Olympians are currently in Flagstaff, honing their skills at the elite high-altitude training camp facilitated by British Athletics.

Farah is also in attendance, with the four-time Olympic champion bidding to bow out of his illustrious track career at the very top in his home city of London.

The 34-year-old is revered by camp personnel - his preparation must not be interrupted.

Farah won his second Rio gold medal in 13 minutes 3.30 seconds, with Butchart five and a half seconds behind.

The 25-year-old from Dunblane was a relative unknown until two years ago when he packed in his job to go warm weather training with his Central AC training mates.

"Before, I was working four or five times a week and kind of fitting runs in between that," he said.

"A few of the guys decided to go away, and so I tried to get leave but [his employers] wouldn't give me it. So I decided to sack the job for my athletics."

The gamble paid off, and Butchart's self-confidence was quickly rewarded. His world ranking rose and sponsorship followed. In Butchart's methodical mind, it was simple cause and effect.

"Every athlete has to believe in themselves that they can perform," he said. "I always think I am the best or going to be the best, and that's just how it's going to be."

To be the best, Butchart will have to make strides past Farah, only the second man to retain the 5,000m and 10,000m Olympic titles.

Butchart is no longer sprinting around the track at Stirling University after a man on a bike; he is now living in a full-time, elite training environment.

His current house-mate is the former European 800m champion Sharp, and the pair live their lives under the care of coaches and scrutiny of sports scientists.

Meals with the precisely appropriate calorie content are consumed and blood oxygenation levels are regularly recorded to ensure that the rarefied air of high altitude is having the desired effect.

Down-time includes good conversation, coffee shops and carefully selected tiny treats, a mix that suits the determined and gregarious Butchart.

There is no doubt the high altitude life is hard, and the first indications of the rewards will become clear in August, at sea level, in London.

BBC | OmRiyadat English