Four-time Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah will run in the British vest for a final time on the track at this summer’s World Championships in London.
The distance runner will be bidding to defend his 5,000m and 10,000m for a third successive world championships and cement a legacy as the nation’s greatest long-distance runner of all time.
Farah will make a permanent move to road racing from next year, leaving a void in the British squad over the two longest distances on track.
Yorkshire’s Marc Scott is following in the 34-year-old athlete’s footsteps, quite literally.
The Northallerton runner culminated a five-year scholarship at Tulsa University in America earlier this month with victory at the prestigious National College All-American (NCAA) Championships over 10,000m.
“A lot of people in England don’t know how big it was,” said Scott, who will run the 3,000m for Great Britain at the European Team Championships in Lille Métropole today.
If I could give any advice to juniors now, I’d tell them all to go over to America if they really want to see what they can do. There’s a lot of untapped potential that people don’t realise.Marc Scott
“It hadn’t really sunk in after I crossed the line. The day after I got a lot of messages and things blew up on social media. It really hits home how important and how big a race it is.
“But it was a good feeling and five years of hard work finally paid off and I got a national title. I was absolutely thrilled. It’s definitely the biggest win of my career so far but hopefully there’s more to come.”
The NCAA combines the top athletes from 300 colleges across the United States with the top 24 qualifiers racing in the finals in Eugene.
Scott’s coming-of-age victory has earned him a sponsorship offer from Nike to train full-time in Portland, Oregan, the same city Farah has been based since 2011.
Farah’s step up to half marathon and marathon distances will remove any prospect of the pair becoming training partners.
However, it has not stopped Scott dreaming of taking over the mantle from the distance great.
Scott added: “He’s out in Oregan, hopefully where I would be based as well but we’ll have a lot of different training plans so I can’t see us training together.
“There’s a lot of room for improvement for me. I need to get with a group of fast guys and get some good training in. I need a few guys to push me in sessions.
“There’s not many younger guys with times like mine over the longer distances. There’s a few older guys that run quick, but hopefully I’ll be the one taking over from Mo. That would be a great experience and a privilege at the same time.”
The facilities in Oregan are a far cry from Scott’s home club, Richmond and Zetland Harriers, where Scott has been under the tutelage of Ken Harker since his early years.
Farah joined the Nike Oregan Project under coach Alberto Salazar, but should Scott accept the offer from the global sportswear brand, he would join a team of runners under American coach Jerry Schumacher.
“The system out in the US works for me well,” said Scott.
“They do offer a lot more money, that would be my full time job. I wouldn’t need to stress about money.
“I’ve never had opportunity for funding. I’ve not proved my worth enough to receive funding but hopefully in the next few years or year coming up, British Athletics might give me funding as well.
“I don’t think I would be at the stage I am now if I had stayed in England.
“If I could give any advice to juniors now, I’d tell them all to go over to America if they really want to see what they can do.
“There’s a lot of untapped potential that people don’t realise.”
Without a scholarship offer to stay in the UK, Scott moved to the States five years ago upon the offer of paid tuition at Tulsa University.
Since then, the 23-year-old has wiped more than three minutes off his 10,000m personal best and lowered his 5,000m mark by 40 seconds. He has worn the Richmond vest on the track in Britain only a handful of times in those five years but he still returns to train with the club twice a week during his summer vacation.
His lack of races in England, has, perhaps, put him off the radar in terms of British selection and funding.
Scott is still 15 seconds shy of the 5,000m qualifying time for London next month’s World Championships but a good performance at the trials in Birmingham next week would give him hope of a first major championships appearance.
Farah will not compete at the trials, leaving Scott to vye with Olympian Andy Vernon and Swansea’s Dewi Griffiths for a qualifying spot.
This weekend’s European Team Championships will be Scott’s first senior international appearance in the British vest.
On representing Britain in Lille, Scott added: “It’s what all the training goes down to – to try and represent the country as best as I can.
“I have competed for Britain in the junior ranks and at Under 23 level but I want to put on the vest in the seniors where there are plenty of guys to compete with.
“Hopefully I can do well and take the form into the British Championships in two weeks time.
“There are guys that I have beaten in the past that have the standard.
“It’s realistic, I just need the right race.
“I’m 15 seconds off the time but I haven’t really run one in the last few weeks and my training shows that I’m capable of hitting the standard.”