Laura Whittle praying for lucky No 13

Steph Twell and Laura Whittle, right, during the women's 5000 metres final in Birmingham. Picture: Nigel French/PA

Steph Twell and Laura Whittle, right, during the women's 5000 metres final in Birmingham. Picture: Nigel French/PA

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Laura Whittle would not 
consider the number unlucky, if, as hoped, she becomes the 13th Scot to book a place in the GB athletics team for this summer’s Olympics.

A dozen of her compatriots have already guaranteed their selection, but Whittle faces a nerve-wracking wait to see if she will join them.

With the three men’s marathon runners and Beth Potter confirmed in the 10,000m a while ago, another eight competitors sealed their participation in Rio, adding top placings at the weekend’s British Championships in Birmingham to the qualification times already logged.

But, while scottishathletics and Scottish fans are revelling in the strength in depth provided by the generation of homegrown talent, for 
Whittle it has proved a curse as well as a blessing.

With the top two finishers in the 5,000m automatic qualifiers, she was edged out by 
fellow Scots Steph Twell and Eilish McColgan in a competitive race. It leaves her hoping for the final discretionary place, which is not expected to be announced for another two weeks.

But, having such strong competition on her doorstep has been a great incentive to keep digging as deep as she can, knowing that the demands and the standards are only going to keep rising.

“It’s tough coming third because the first two know they’re going. Coming behind Steph and Eilish – and getting a Scottish 1-2-3 is really good. I’ve just got to hope. I ran a good time in America. I was nervous because making the start line would be an achievement. There was all to play for. I’ll just see what the selectors say. It’s two more weeks.

“I always knew this would be an exciting race. Three of us had got two times so it was all in our favour, Because it was tactical, it was exciting to be part of and I think that practice will move me on. A lot of races I’ve done this season have moved me on and I did a third PB earlier in the season. So this was good to practice.”

A former swimmer and a Loughborough graduate in Publishing with English, her profile also reveals she plays the piano and trombone and enjoys attending West End musicals. She competed in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and is a past U-23 European Cross Country champion and gold medallist 5000m champion.

But now she is hoping that she will be able to add the fact she is an Olympian to her 
life story.

At the very least she is keeping her fingers crossed that she gets the nod to run at the European Championships at the start of next month, where another strong performance should win over the selectors and see her on the plane to Brazil in August, boosting the Scottish contingent even further.

Born in Blackpool to an English father and Scottish mother, she opted in favour of her maternal homeland when it came to representative honours and would love to be in a group that has already smashed all expectations, with the original target for Rio six athletes. Instead the Scots will register a 44-year high. Not since Munich in 1972 has there been such a rich vein of Scottish talent in the GB athletics team and Whittle was all smiles on Sunday, despite coming in third.

Excited and proud of a season in which she has smashed her personal best, getting it down to 15:08.58, and really mixing it with GB’s finest to keep herself in with a shout of going to the Olympics.

“I’m so pleased with my season,”she added. “It’s ranked me in the top 24 which is what they look for. We’ll see what happens. But it’s a great event to be part of the 5,000m this year and Scottish endurance running is coming on and on.

“Hopefully I’ll get to the Europeans. Apart from the Commonwealth Games, I’ve never been to a senior championships. So, if I get picked for Europeans it would be a good stepping stone.”

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