Overall’s got it covered

Scott Overall
Scott Overall
Lee-on-the-Solent parkrun: Nicolas Boorne, Sophie Hurlo, Kat Powell and Jane Blatch-Gainey. Picture Ian Hargreaves (180198-1)

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Scott Overall is bidding to take a vital step towards next year’s London Olympics as he spearheads the British challenge at this year’s BUPA Great South Run.

The 28-year-old Londoner is a former UK 5,000m champion but gave up on his track career earlier this year to switch his focus to the marathon and he’s using this weekend’s Portsmouth event to add to his road-race experience.

Until recently, Overall was still working part-time in a sports shop to supplement his income and there could yet be a remarkable rags to riches tale if he can achieve Olympic success.

But after a storming run in the Berlin marathon on his debut at the distance – clocking the Olympic qualifying standard at the first attempt – Overall’s time of two hours 10 minutes and 56 seconds points to a big future.

With that sort of form on the road and with the shorter distance around the Portsmouth course, Overall is expected to be among the favourites to break up the African domination.

But the bigger goal on the horizon is the London showpiece in a year’s time.

Overall said: ‘I couldn’t believe it. I thought I had got the time wrong, so I was cruising on the home straight and when I saw the clock said two hours 10 minutes I was very surprised.

‘All in all, it wasn’t a bad debut.

‘Now my target’s the Olympic marathon and I hope to find out if I’m selected in the first wave of selections in early December so I can plan ahead.

‘I hope the Olympics will be my next marathon and my focus there will be on a place not a time.

‘The Olympic marathon might not be fast as it’s a championship race. I hope to get into 2:07 shape before then and make it into the top 10 – the position is the important thing – anything can happen and I hope to be in contention.’

Fellow British hopeful, Chris Thompson – the 2010 European 10,000m silver medallist – is also in Sunday’s field,

And Peter Riley, elite athletes manager, believes Overall can produce another top performance.

He said: ‘Scott’s finished fourth on both occasions he’s competed in the BUPA Great South Run, so he will be entering very familiar territory.

‘As a former track athlete, the fast and very flat course will also be an advantage to his style and I’m sure with domestic rivalry certain to emerge between himself and Thompson, their head-to-head will produce a thrilling battle.

‘It’s also a great opportunity for the pair of them to race against a strong overseas challenge.’