Stephen Maguire believes the shortlist for Scotland’s Athlete of the Year award proves emphatically the country is making a mark on the international stage.
The Irishman charged with leading our track and field team into Glasgow 2014 next summer is approaching the Hampden countdown with cautious optimism. And he has insisted the presence of five athletes from the GB team at the World Championships on the Scottish Athletics award shortlist, as well as a Para IPC World Championships double silver medallist, is added evidence the sport here is in better health than recently.
Lynsey Sharp collected the KUKRI Athlete of the Year title for 2011 and 2012 but injury for almost all of the 2013 season ended that reign. Now five of the seven Scots who went to Moscow are shortlisted – Eilidh Child, Eilish McColgan, Laura Muir, Chris O’Hare and Susan Partridge. Those five are joined by Para sprinter Libby Clegg. O’Hare is the only male but that in itself is a change from the past couple of years while all three nominations at under-20 level are male – Nick Percy, Jake Wightman and Shaun Wyllie.
The winners, chosen by a selection panel, will be announced at an awards dinner in Glasgow on 26 October where former Olympic decathlete Dean Macey is guest of honour. “I think the Scottish Athlete of the Year shortlist proves we’ve some people who can rightfully label themselves as world class,” said Maguire. “If you look through it there are five who went to the World Champs with Team GB and NI as well as Libby Clegg who did well in the IPC World Champs. Three of the five in Moscow reached finals while Susan Partridge was tenth in the marathon, which was a very fine performance in tough conditions on the day in August.
“Eilidh Child and Eilish McColgan have been setting Scottish records through 2013 and there are probably three on that list of six who you could say come under the heading of ‘potential’. The others are nearing or at their peak.
“In the U20 list we have three guys who all went to the European Champs in that age-group to represent GB and two of them came back with medals. So I think there are real examples of people competing at a very high level and it does offer a fair bit of hope for the future – with Glasgow 2014 on the horizon. But, at the moment, we’re looking back on the 2013 year and the diversity of the sport is recognised there as well with nominations for hill running and ultra running in a couple of other categories. It has been an excellent year on various levels for Scottish Athletics and picking up 14 medals in Birmingham at the Sainsbury British Champs stands out for me as quite a memorable weekend – as well as seven being picked for Moscow, which was great.”
Relay pair Jamie Bowie and Kirsten McAslan were the other Scots to attend the World Championships, while high jumper Allan Smith won a bronze at the European Under-23 Championships – like Muir – but was too old for the U20 category.
Kukri Athlete of the Year
Eilidh Child; Libby Clegg; Eilish McColgan; Laura Muir; Chris O’Hare; Susan Partridge.
U20 Athlete of the Year
Nick Percy; Jake Wightman; Shaun Wyllie.
U18 Athlete of the Year
Catriona Graves; Katie Purves; Ben Robbins.
Masters Athlete of the Year
Hayley Haining; Sharon Law; Laura Mahady.