OLYMPIAN Eilish McColgan has urged young athletes across Scotland to be inspired by the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and pursue their sporting ambitions to the limit.
The GB international was speaking as she went back to school in her hometown of Dundee along with Scottish Minister for Sport and Commonwealth Games, Shona Robison.
Scottishathletics and the Scottish Government have launched the “Inspire 2014” programme and one aspect of the blueprint is for international athletes to make school visits around the country in the countdown to Glasgow 2014.
McColgan, who posted an A standard for the World Championships in Moscow in Italy last week in the 3,000m steeplechase, attended Craigie High School and Baldragon Academy.
The UK champion told pupils about the sacrifices she has made in recent years to try to improve and revealed nerves got the better of her at London 2012 – a mistake she is determined not to repeat at Hampden next year.
“Over the years I have missed a few birthday parties for friends and missed out on nights out at Uni and so on, but I happen to think it has been all worth it for the level I am at now in athletics,” said the 22-year-old, who has featured in the Diamond League in New York and Rome in the past few weeks.
“I am competing around the world, taking part in big events, meeting fellow athletes on the international stage and making friends. Glasgow 2014 is a big motivation and I believe it can inspire our youngsters.
“You need to make a lot of sacrifices. You have to try and learn as you go along and you can start that while still at school. It is worth remembering it is not the end of the world if your running technique isn’t perfect. Hard work can overcome a lot of things over the years.
“I used to be like Bambi on ice when I jumped a hurdle but I’m working at it all the time to improve technique. Set yourself goals and try and turn a negative into a positive.
“You’ve been dropped by the hockey or football team? How can you get back on the team? You can attend every training session, try harder and practise more to ensure you are picked again. Struggling with schoolwork, tests and exams? Watch an hour less of TV at night and do an hour studying – that should help.
“I didn’t win a lot of titles and medals at school. Other girls used to win those races but I don’t see them around now in the sport. I honestly don’t know where they are.
“I had a diet problem and didn’t realise it at first. I hardly ate any vegetables and didn’t eat red meat. I was anaemic and had to change a lot of things to improve my diet.
“Now I don’t drink tea, coffee or fizzy drinks. Make sure you have breakfast before you come to school. You will feel so much more awake.”
London 2012 lasted only one race for McColgan as she “under-performed” by her own admission. She said: “I completely crumbled in terms of nerves and I think it was a major factor in me under-performing. Normally I don’t worry at all about racing because I just feel it is something I do every day. At the Olympics, that was different and I was so worked up I was nearly crying. Now I am working hard on keeping focused and making sure I am not too anxious.”
l Laura Muir is the 30th Scottish track and field athlete to post at least one qualifying standard for Glasgow 2014.
The 20-year-old UK indoor 1500m champion clocked 4.10.01 for the distance in Prague to get under the 4.10.50 required.
Muir, like McColgan a product of the Dundee Hawkhill Harriers club, even managed the time and a PB despite being bumped and almost falling to the ground during the race in the Czech Republic as Eilidh Child posted another 400m hurdles qualifying time with 55.12 seconds.
Scotland had 17 athletes at the required standards for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi – with 19 duly taken to India back in 2010 – but now 30 have at least one performance “in the bank” as well as the Women’s 4x400m team.