Callum Hawkins said he was relishing the chance to battle Mo Farah in the marathon from next year after finishing an impressive fourth at the World Championships in London.
The Scot admitted to mixed emotions, despite equalling the best-ever finish by a British man in the event, and the best in 22 years since Peter Whitehead’s performance in Gothenburg.
The 25-year-old, ninth at last year’s Olympics in Rio, clocked a personal best two hours 10 minutes 17 seconds as he crossed the finish line at Tower Bridge 26 seconds off bronze.
Kenya’s Geoffrey Kirui took victory on the course, which consisted of four 10km loops on closed roads, in 2hrs 8mins 27secs. Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola claimed silver and Alphonce Felix Simbu of Tanzania bronze.
“I was wanting to maybe sneak a medal and to actually see it as I was finishing was a bit tough,” said Hawkins. “But I gave it my all and I couldn’t ask for anything more performance wise.
“I knew I could be close to a medal, but there are some quality athletes. Usually the big guys don’t quite turn up, but they all turned up.”
Hawkins finished strongly, picking athletes off late in the race after deciding not to go with the leaders when they made a move at the halfway point.
“I should have maybe held them a bit closer when that big move went, but it was a huge move,” said Hawkins, who dropped out of his last race, a half-marathon in the Czech Republic in June, after battling illness. “But if I had I would have been almost walking towards the end.”
Hawkins’ sense of slight frustration at missing out on a medal is a clear sign of his confidence – and he is determined to give Farah a run for his money when the 10-time global track champion takes to the roads full-time.
“Hopefully he’ll be seeing my back,” joked Hawkins. “He’s a quality athlete and hopefully it’ll be a good head-to-head.”
Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s World Championship medal hopes are all but over as she was left looking for a last-gasp heptathlon miracle.
The 24-year-old slipped to fifth with just the 800 metres remaining after the long jump and javelin in the morning session in London on Sunday. She is 240 points adrift of third-placed Anouk Vetter having finished 20th in the javelin – despite coming second in the long jump.
Johnson-Thompson has the 800m on Sunday evening left and needs an unlikely result to snatch a medal.
The Briton was fourth going into the second day of competition following a brilliant 200 metres on Saturday night. She continued her decent form in the long jump with a leap of 6.56m – just one centimetre behind the winning mark made by overall leader Nafissatou Thiam.
It earned Johnson-Thompson 1027 points and lifted her to third overall before she lost ground in the javelin, despite throwing a season’s best of 41.72m.
Johnson-Thompson’s medal hopes were already slim after a terrible high jump, usually her best event, on Saturday after she cleared just 1.80m, 18 centimetres off her personal best.