Athletics: Andrew Butchart 'honoured' at GB captaincy

Mo Farah (left) and Andrew Butchart
Andrew Butchart (right) with Mo Farah after the men's 5000m Olympic final in summer

After the chills of a Scottish December, Andrew Butchart is enjoying the comparative warmth of 18 degree sunshine in Chia, Sardinia.

However, the 25-year-old Central AC athlete hopes he doesn't freeze.

He isn't fazed by the prospect of running for Great Britain in Sunday's European Cross Country Championships - it's the act of addressing his team.

"I'm probably more nervous about doing the captain's speech than the race itself," Butchart told BBC Scotland.

Butchart has been named as the British captain for the first time in his career and it's an honour the chatterbox of Scottish athletics is delighted to receive.

"Yeah, it's massive," he said. "I've only been running for Britain for a couple of years now, so to captain the team so soon is incredible.

"I've always joked that every single British team I've been on I've been vice-captain, so to be captain is unbelievable."

And Butchart runs in fine company.

The senior men's team features fellow Scots Olympian Callum Hawkins. Butchart and Hawkins dominated the trial in Liverpool and were followed home by fellow Olympians Andy Vernon and Ross Millington.

Fellow Scot Steph Twell is the only Scot in the women's senior team, while Scotland's Josh Kerr makes his GB debut in the men's junior race.

"I have to be responsible for once and look after the younger athletes if they need help," laughs Butchart.

"I have to give a talk and try to be motivating and get everyone pumped for the race. I'm not sure what I'm going to say yet - I'm just going to go from the gut. I'm not going to practise anything.

"Obviously I've got a bit of a story, about coming through fast in the last year - hopefully some of the younger ones will look at that and be inspired."

Andrew Butchart broke the Scottish records for 3000 and 5000 metres in 2016
Andrew Butchart broke the Scottish records for 3000 and 5000 metres in 2016

And the GB captain is confident that the senior men can bring home gold.

"If the point comes [that] it's me and Callum at the front, we will definitely talk to each other and go for one, two.

"Callum is an incredible athlete and competitor, but because we are Team GB there is a team element and we want to win the team gold as senior men.

"I think on paper the GB team is pretty strong - there are four Olympians in the team and it's four to count, so fingers crossed we can all finish in the top 10 and bring back shiny gold medals for everyone."

That would indeed be a remarkable finale to what has been a breakthrough year for Butchart.

Highlights include breaking the Scottish records for 3000 and 5000 metres; an Olympic final and the honour of the GB captaincy.

"I've had an incredible year and it's been unbelievable journey for me," he said. "But this is just the start - I've not made it yet. Because I'm so close to being right at the top I just want it even more.

"There's more drive to just keep going and pushing - I just keep thinking: 'what can I do to be even better so the journey can continue'?"

Away from pre-captain's-speech nerves, Butchart is ready to run on Sunday.

"I don't really get nervous before races - I enjoy running, it's what I love to do," he said. "The sooner the gun goes the better.

"I just want the team as a group to do well and fingers crossed this can be the most successful British team at European cross we have ever had."

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