Callum Hawkins running the marathon at the World Athletics Championships in Doha

Sport for life: Callum Hawkins

Marathon star feeling 'more robust' after physical preparation support

World class athlete Callum Hawkins broke the Scottish record at the London Marathon in April 2019.

He then finished fourth at the IAAF World Championships in Doha to earn pre-selection for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, now due to take place in 2021.

It was an emotional return for the 28-year-old, who had collapsed with heat exhaustion while leading the marathon at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Callum said: “It was good to break the record and show what I’m still capable of. Doha was a bit tough as I wanted a medal, but one of my main goals for 2019 was to run quick in London and then do well enough to get pre-selection for Tokyo, so to achieve both took the weight off my shoulders.”

One thing that contributed to this double success was the support Callum received from the sportscotland institute of sport (SIS), working in collaboration with physical preparation coach Barry Jones as well as the performance physiology and physiotherapy teams.

Callum, a lifetime member of Kilbarchan AAC, said: “Before, I probably dipped in and out of strength and conditioning, but Barry made me fully buy into it and it seems to have worked. I now train twice a week where possible while also getting a lot of massage and physiotherapy.

“Going to Doha with the heat … it was good to work with SIS physiologist Cian McGinley and Andy Shaw from British Athletics to work out plans and see what I could do in the heat – and how I could handle it.”

Institute expertise was also key in preventing a recurring hamstring injury.

Callum said: “Towards the end of 2018 I was getting a few recurring hamstring issues so we put a plan together to target that in the treatment room and the gym with Mandy More from SIS, Cat McCormick from BA and Barry.

“It was hard work but it has worked, I’m more robust and feel a lot stronger. Having a good year of consistent training has made a huge difference.”

Dad Robert – who is also Callum’s coach – agrees that this cohesive and collaborative approach is vital.

He said: “Continuity and consistency in training is key to make progress, and the institute has certainly helped maintain that. The massage, physio, S&C and physiology have kept Callum ticking over and we have regular catch-ups to plan in advance. It’s very much a team effort.”

Central to that successful team is the dual father/coach relationship ­– a set-up that Callum says works well.

He revealed: “Dad has coached me throughout my whole career, so we have a good rapport. We know how things work and don’t need to talk much except to bounce ideas off each other.

“Of course, there are moments when father and coach lines cross and things get heated, but it’s good because he tells me off when I need it and vice-versa.”

Robert agreed, saying: “Sometimes it’s hard to know whether to wear the dad or coach hat, but from both perspectives, the past few years have been outstanding.”

School also had an inspiring impact on the young athlete, whose elder brother Derek is also a leading distance runner. Callum said: “At primary school the head teacher was really into sport, so we did a lot of cross-country runs. I then started competing in local school races and never looked back.”

Alongside competing on the world stage, Callum remains proud to turn out for Kilbarchan Amateur Athletics Club in Renfrewshire.

He said: “It’s an honour to represent them and I try to compete every chance I get.

"The club have been extremely supportive from a young age, which was great for my development.

“It has a vital role in and around Kilbarchan and you only need to see the numbers there to see how important it is. They’re constantly promoting running through schools and it’s good to see the next generation coming through.”

That next generation will no doubt be cheering on their local hero if he gets the chance to compete in Tokyo at the rescheduled Olympic Games in 2021 ­– and Callum is determined to bring home a medal.

He said: “My ambition is to fight for a podium place, which will be tough, but I’ve just got to put myself in the best place I can and hopefully rewrite what happened at the Gold Coast.”

Robert added: “If you’d asked me when Callum was 10 if he’d finish top four in the world, I’d have laughed. But it just shows what can be achieved, and it’s all down to consistency.

“Obviously the talent has to be there in the first place, but if you work hard, keep pushing and get a really good team behind you, there’s no telling what can happen.”

Find out more  

Discover how you can get involved in athletics at the scottishathletics website

Find out more about coaching at the sportscotland website

Sport For Life: summary of progress is sportscotland's annual review for 2019-20.

  • Visit the project home page to absorb the data that illustrates our progress in the period April 2019 to March 2020
  • Discover more about Sport For Life - our corporate strategy launched in 2019
  • Catch up with previous annual reviews on the sportscotland website.

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