IT is generally considered the worst possible finishing spot in events where bronze medals are awarded but Callum Hawkins’ fourth place finish in the World Championship represented a remarkable achievement and the latest evidence that he is set to become a contender at major championships for the foreseeable future.

The 25-year-old from Elderslie had endured a badly interrupted preparation ahead of his trip to London, finding his back locked rigid as he woke up on the race of a major meeting in May, then having to withdraw during another run in 27 degree heat in the Czech Republic in June having come off a second round of antibiotics immediately before it.

Yet, in what was still only his fourth marathon, he was at it again, pushing the pace early on then roaring back towards the end to claim that fourth spot in a personal best time of two hours 17 minutes 10 seconds, matching the best ever performance by a male British athlete at a World Championships that of Peter Whitehead who similarly just missed out on a medal in Gothenburg.

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Hawkins’ own immediate post-race analysis spoke to the mental conundrums these men have to face while at the limit of their physical capabilities and there was some frustration.

“To actually see it (the bronze medal finisher crossing the line) as I was finishing was a bit tough, but I gave it my all and I couldn’t really ask for anything more, I couldn’t give any more,” he said. “I was wanting a medal and I knew I could be close to a medal, but there were some quality athletes today. Usually the big guys don’t quite turn up, but they all turned up today.”

For all that detailed examination of the tapes may give him some idea of how he might have begun the late surge that took him past several of his rivals he was consequently pleased with the calculations he had made on the hoof.

“I maybe left it a bit late, maybe should have covered the big move at halfway a bit more. I felt at the time it would have destroyed me if I did though,” he explained. “At the time they went I didn’t even think I could finish it was taking that much effort to even hold it, but on the last lap I just got another spur, felt strong and went from strength to strength. If I’d gone with the move I probably wouldn’t have finished. It was huge.”

As to what it has told him about his potential all he seems to have gained is confirmation of what he already knew.

“I definitely think I can live with these guys now, but I thought going into it I could compete with them,” he said. “I just maybe need a few more years, I’m still only 25, but I think the boy who won it was pretty young, so I’ve still got him to contend with for years. We’ll just see how it goes, on to the Commonwealth Games and then on to Tokyo.”

The new world champion Geoffrey Kiprui, who finished in 2:08.27, a minute and 22 seconds ahead of Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola, is among those he could find himself up against on the Gold Coast, as is bronze medallist Alphonce Simbu (2.09.51), while Hawkins may also face rival in future years in his most famous British team-mate Mo Farah.

“Hopefully he’ll be seeing my back…” joked the man whose pace setting effort at the Edinburgh Cross Country earlier this year killed off Farah’s challenge.

However he quickly added a more serious welcome to the prospect of facing the man who is bowing out from major track championships in London.

“He’s a quality athlete and hopefully it’ll be a good head to head,” Hawkins said. “He’s a big name in the world who has brought a lot of attention to British running which is good, but hopefully there’s a few coming up behind him on the wings who will fill in these places.”

Farah is almost certain to be absent from the Gold Coast, but Hawkins definitely intends to be there running for Scotland.

“I’ll be doing the marathon at the Commonwealth Games,” Hawkins confirmed. “It’s all about the medals.”