Scottish National and British Inter-Counties champion among the British athletes competing at the World Cross in China on Saturday
Andrew Butchart has praised the ‘future potential’ section of British Athletics’ selection policy for this weekend’s IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China, highlighting how it gives recognition to performances the governing body believes possible now or in the coming years.
The Scottish National and British Inter-Counties champion is one of four senior male athletes on Great Britain’s World Cross team. The selection document had stated that GB would field full junior teams, but that senior athletes would only be selected if they were believed to have top-30 potential for Guiyang or future World Cross events.
“I am glad British Athletics changed their minds on the policy,” said Butchart.
“At one stage they had it as top 30 for the World Cross and realistically Gemma Steel was the only senior athlete they would be taking. Andy Vernon was injured and Mo Farah wasn’t keen to go.
“Fortunately, they then adjusted it and made it top 30 potential for this event or future World Cross events. So those of us going now know that they feel we can produce something now or in the future and that’s great.”
The 23-year-old also explained how a late Scotland call-up two years ago for a Celtic International cross country race in a snowy Cardiff put him on the road to Guiyang.
“I didn’t win championships or Scotland vests as a youngster,” he said.
“I was the best in my school in Dunblane, yes, but others were really dominant at the club around that time.
“I enjoyed it but wasn’t all that serious about it. I won a Scotland vest in January 2013 in Cardiff and had a really good run. That made me buck up my ideas. I don’t know who was selected originally, or who pulled out, but I certainly do know I was a late call-up.
“Robbie Simpson had been performing well on cross country that season but I beat him there and it made me think I’d better work a bit harder. My coach, Derek Easton, helped a lot at that time, too. Now it is the World Cross and I’m relishing the whole idea.”
The Central AC runner, who placed 35th at the Euro Cross in December and finished second behind Adam Hickey in the overall British Athletics Cross Challenge series standings for 2014/15, added how he believes giving athletes World Cross experience could help the future of the sport in Britain.
“It helps the sport to have performances rewarded and maybe this will help the British Cross Challenge series next year and thereafter,” he said. “You can’t dangle the carrot and then take it away from people.
“Look at me; I started the season in the East District relays in Peebles in October and I certainly wasn’t thinking then about the World Cross or anything like it. So that’s maybe shown what can be done in a short time with a bit of hard work and form.”
» See the March 26 edition of Athletics Weekly magazine for a three-page World Cross preview