Olympics: Marathon man Overall on the right track after devastating debut
14:30 05 April 2012
London 2012: Joshua Richards speaks with the Blackheath & Bromley Harriers distance specialist and one of the first athletes to secure his place at the Games
* Born: 9 February 1983
* Lives: Sutton
* Educated at Orleans Park School, Twickenham; then won a scholarship to Butler University (USA)
n While majoring in economics at Butler, Overall won multiple All-American titles and finished 6th in the NCAA Championships in 2007
* Club: Blackheath & Bromley
* Coach: Robert Chapman
* Personal bests — 1,500: 3mins 41secs - Mile (indoor): 3mins 58secs - 5,000m: 13mins 28secs - 10 mile: 47mins 37secs - Half-marathon: 61mins 25secs - Marathon: 2hrs 10mins 55secs
* Upcoming races: BUPA 10km (London, May 27); Olympic Games marathon (August 12)
* You can follow Scott Overall on his journey to the Olympics via his website www.scottoverall.com or on Twitter @scottoverall
Running in his first-ever marathon race last September, Scott Overall incredibly booked his place at London 2012 — but while the country gets swept up in Olympic fever the 29-year-old insists the showpiece event is firmly at the back of his mind.
Since a triumphant day in Berlin where Overall surpassed the Olympic A qualification standard, arguably Team GB’s most surprising squad member was faced with just under a year to become a master of the unforgiving 26.2 mile event, before he takes to the capital’s streets to rub shoulders with the world’s elite.
Yet Overall does not have plans to run another competitive marathon until August 12, where his second-ever attempt at the distance will be a quest for an Olympic medal.
To outside observers Overall’s tactics seem questionable, but the forthright Blackheath & Bromley ace has had his year meticulously planned out.
Having recently competed in Silverstone and New York half-marathons, next on the agenda is pace-setting at this month’s London Marathon, before flying over to America to concentrate on training and leave the Olympic-hype behind.
“I’m not going to stress, thinking about the Olympics,” said Overall.
“I’m going to Flagstaff, Arizona to train for a month after the London Marathon. I’ll work with my coach and we might change a few things.
“I go over to Flagstaff because of the altitude — you’re running at 8,000 feet. Lots of runners go to Kenya, but I know what works for me and I don’t want to change anything in an Olympic year.
“In the run-up to the Games you know you’re not going to get any faster. You have to respect the distance. I’m going to prepare for London as I did for Berlin.”
Despite his surprise emergence as one of Great Britain’s first qualifiers for the Games, Overall is no stranger to competition and always believed he could qualify for London in his preferred middle-distance discipline.
“I think every athlete envisages they will get to an Olympic Games and I was no different,” he said.
Overall was the UK 5,000m champion in 2009, but has been usurped in recent years by his friend Mo Farah, who has gone on to win global gold over the same distance.
With track work on his annual training trip to America last year not going as well as hoped, Overall took the decision to hedge his bets and bid for a Marathon place. The rest is history.
His middle distance background will no doubt stand Overall in good stead in the build-up to the Games, but it will be hard to predict how he will fair with only his 2hr 10min 55secs Berlin time to go on. The Hammersmith-born athlete will have to shave almost four minutes off that time to break the British record — 2:07.13 — set by Steve Jones 26 years ago and go more than six minutes faster to trouble the world leading times set so far this year.
But Overall insists form will go out the window when the athletes are stood on the start line in east London and will draw on the performance of British athlete Jon Brown at the 2004 Games as his inspiration.
“The marathon at the Olympics isn’t about times, it’s about position,” he said. “Jon Brown was fourth in Athens and my personal best is not a million miles away from his. Just because my time isn’t as quick as some of the others this year doesn’t matter. Anyone can have a bad race on the day.
“I don’t think two hours will be broken this year. It could be done in two or three years. We see half marathon times improved continually.”
Since leaving behind his part-time job in a sports shop in Clapham Junction to become a full-time athlete at the end of last year, Overall has found he has more time on his hands. A keen tweeter and weekly blogger, he also is a Chelsea supporter and takes great pride in his beloved Blues being “the only English team left in Europe”.
If he had to swap his running shoes for anything it would be a pair of football boots, although he doesn’t believe the nation will turn its attention away from the exploits going on in the Olympic Stadium.
“Tickets for football were one of the slowest to sell. I don’t think people are interested,” he said.
“There’s not much talk about Team GB players. I don’t think it will be a distraction from the other sports. It shouldn’t be an Olympic sport anyway. They have their own Olympics with the World Cup.”