Commonwealth Games 2014: Eilidh Child sets tone

Eilidh Child: New Scottish record. Picture: Getty
Eilidh Child: New Scottish record. Picture: Getty
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VERSATILE Eilidh Child tore up the Scottish record books over 400 metres earlier in 2013 – and now she’s at it again over hurdles.

The Olympian and Commonwealth Games silver medallist shaved a further fraction off her 400m hurdles best in Geneva on Saturday.

Child’s 54.93 seconds puts down a marker for the World Championships in Moscow with a place in the final already her stated goal. And it added to the growing feelgood factor in Scottish athletics on a weekend which saw another clutch of Glasgow 2014 standards achieved. Lennie Waite, Kirsty Yates and Laura Whittle joined a lengthening list of qualified Scots.

Paisley’s Waite joined those to have achieved the times, distances and heights being asked for Glasgow with a good run in a 3,000m steeplechase in Belgium. Thrower Kirsty Yates did likewise by putting the shot 15.66m in Bedford on Saturday and Laura Whittle clocked 15.39.47 in a 5,000m race in Manchester – well inside the 15.45 required. Waite clocked 9.56.46, inside the women’s qualifying time of ten minutes.

The standards have been drawn up by Scottishathletics and Commonwealth Games Scotland after taking the last three Games into account. The tally of athletes who have achieved at least one standard so far stands at 28 plus the Scotland 4 x 400m women’s relay team.

There were three more hammer standards in Bedford alongside Yates and high jump and long jump efforts in Geneva where Jayne Nisbet and Jade Nimmo won their respective events at an international meeting.

But Child is fast becoming the talisman after an indoor season in which she won individual 400m silver and 4 x 400m gold on the same day at the European Indoors in Gothenburg in March. Her weekend run was quicker than rival Perri Shakes-Drayton managed in the Diamond League in Oregon to leave the Scot top of the British rankings.

“I am very pleased and it still feels early season,” said Child. Her Geneva run was a big improvement on her 56.34 at Loughborough a fortnight earlier. “Hopefully there are event better performances to come further down the line. The whole point of the indoor season on the flat was to help my speed and now it is good to see improvement over the hurdles. I am running again in France on Monday and will see if I can go even quicker there,” she added.

“I feel there are lots of good things happening for Scottish athletes at the moment and it is very exciting. We’re seeing people post Glasgow 2014 standards. It is such a big motivation.”

Waite joins Eilish McColgan in 
having one Commonwealth standard for the 3,000m steeplechase, with each athlete needing to post two – except in the marathon, the 10,000m and relays.

With 53 weeks remaining of the qualification period, 28 athletes already in contention is significant progress with only 17 having made the standard for Delhi in 2010.

Scottishathletics director of coaching Stephen Maguire said: “Ultimately, we want to see those who are capable of the standards then looking to see where they are ranked in the Commonwealth and seeing if they can push that up. Places in finals and people in medal contention are what everyone wants to see at Glasgow 2014.”

Hammer trio Andy Frost, Mark Dry and Chris Bennett have all posted multiple standards – a fitting tribute following the recent death of event guru Alan Bertram, who worked with all three men at certain times.

Scottish long jump record holder Nimmo won her competition in Switzerland with 6.26m while Nisbet cleared 1.83m to win the high jump.

In Belgium, there were fine performances by David Martin in the 400m hurdles and Gemma Nicol and Kris Robertson in the 400m. Laura Muir, the UK indoor 1500m champion, won in Germany on Friday night with her 4.12 outdoor PB just outside the Glasgow 2014 standard. Young discus thrower Nick Percy achieved a Scottish Junior record last week and is ranked in the top five in Europe.