Callum Hawkins believes returning to Scotland from college in America five years ago helped him on the road to becoming FPSG Athlete of the Year for 2017.
The marathon runner from Kilbarchan AAC beat off strong opposition for the sport’s top award after a stellar year which saw him finish fourth at the World Championships in London and set a Scottish record for half marathon.
Hawkins became the first male to win the award since hurdler Allan Scott back in 2008 and the 25-year-old admitted he’s thrilled the way his career unfolded after a move to Butler University in his late teens went sour as he underwent knee surgery on two occasions.
“I look back now on things that happened a few years ago and think they happened for a reason,” said Hawkins, who flew in from altitude training in the Pyrenees to attend the FPSG scottishathletics Awards Dinner.
“I have thought for a while now that if I hadn’t come back to Scotland when I did, I probably wouldn’t be running now. I have been quite fortunate to get back and get to a higher level than before.
“It was while I was at Butler University that I damaged my knee and I still don’t quite know how it happened. The first surgery was in 2012 and I didn’t really get back into my running until well into 2014 when I ran the Glasgow 2014 qualifying time in California. So that was two years just to get back to where I had been at.
“I probably wasn’t the best behaved to be honest, when out there in America. The lessons helped make me the athlete I am today and I have no regrets.
“I think times are changing a wee bit and young athletes are seeing various ways to do it and that leaving Scotland is not necessarily the best option for them. Hopefully Brits and Scots are showing we can compete at the top level globally.”
Laura Muir and Chris O’Hare were among those short-listed for the FPSG Athlete of the Year award, with Eilish McColgan and Sammi Kinghorn also nominated by a scottishathletics selection panel.
Making it a double for the Hawkins family, Callum’s father/coach Robert landed the Performance Coach of the Year award for 2017.
Kinghorn collected the Para Athlete of the Year award and it was a good night for Kilbarchan as Jemma Reekie took the U20 Athlete of the Year award. Philippa Millage of VP-Glasgow was named Masters Athlete of the Year and Joel McFarlane is U17 Athlete of the Year.
“I am absolutely delighted to win the FPSG Athlete of the Year award for 2017,” added Hawkins.
“It’s a great honour because I think everyone knows that Scottish athletes have been performing really well and there are some very talented and successful athletes on the short-list.
“So thanks to those who made the selection and to scottishathletics and their sponsors for the award – the reception on Saturday night at the FPSG Awards Dinner was a special moment. I took a lot of confidence into 2017 after winning bronze at the Euro Cross last December and then running well at Holyrood Park at the start of the year.
“It wasn’t beating Mo Farah, because I don’t think he was really in shape at that time and it would be wrong to claim otherwise, but it was the performance and going so close to winning that day which added to my belief for 2017.
“Then the two half marathons in Japan and New York set me up for the summer in London. Overall I have to be pretty satisfied with the way the year unfolded.
“Now it is all about getting ready for the Commonwealth Games marathon and seeing what I can do out there in April.”