Liz McColgan hails ‘world-class’ crop of Scottish talent

Eilish McColgan will excel as a 10,000m runner, according to her running legend mum Liz. Picture: John Devlin
Eilish McColgan will excel as a 10,000m runner, according to her running legend mum Liz. Picture: John Devlin
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Liz McColgan-Nuttall’s flying visit back home to Scotland last weekend featured a hectic round of media activity and her first marathon run for several years in Stirling.

In between times, she continued coaching daughter Eilish from afar, took note of Chris O’Hare’s superb personal best comeback run at 1,500m, and then watched online as Beth Potter and Steph Twell finish one-two in the British 10,000m Championships the night before her own Stirling 
Scottish Marathon.

This weekend, as five Scots take to the Diamond League stage again in the Prefontaine Classic Meet in Eugene in the US, she expects performances worthy of a global audience.

That’s the way it is currently for the Class of 2017 as August’s IAAF World Championships in London loom, with those mentioned above plus Eilidh Doyle, Laura Muir, Lynsey Sharp, Andy Butchart and Callum Hawkins all operating in the very upper reaches of the world rankings.

“What’s happening at the moment really is exciting,” said Liz, right, who finished in 3.18 at the Stirling Scottish Marathon a couple of days before her 53rd birthday.

“There’s a very strong group there and we can’t refer to them now as youngsters because they are in their mid-20s – some aged 26, 27. They have matured well as they have come through the age groups to seniors and international level. We have athletes now we can truly label as world class and that’s great for the sport.

“Some of them have come ‘through the other side’ in terms of one or two things if you look back at their experiences down recent years.

“Athletics is a tough sport. It is a learning curve and I always think that the success you get out of it comes hand in hand with disappointments. Injuries are part of it and, often, it is how you manage your way through it and try to maintain your balance to keep on going and progressing.

“Laura, Eilish, Chris O’Hare, and one or two others like Steph, have been through the mill at times. But persistence and stubborness can pay off. It is hard work but we’ve found out what some people are made of through their various issues.

“When the likes of Laura and Eilish bounce back, they come back stronger people and better athletes for that.”

Muir races in a stacked 1,500m race in Eugene while, the previous day, Eilish is in a women’s 5,000m race which, although not on the Diamond League programme, looks very strong.

Butchart’s 5,000m field contains a raft of men who have broken 13 minutes and Sharp and O’Hare have 800m and Mile races lined up, too.

Eilish finished 13th in the Olympic final at 5,000m in Rio last summer after moving over from the 3,000m steeplechase and taking a couple of her mum’s PBs along the way.

“Doing well in Rio last year has given Eilish more confidence,” Liz said. “She shied away from changing events from the steeplechase for a while but now she knows what she can do on the flat. She knows she can be a world class 5,000m and 10,000m runner.

“Yes, she has run close to a couple of my PBs in certain distances! But I have always said she can be a better athlete than me. She will be better over 10,000m one day, believe me.

“Eilish has more tools in her box than I did. Over the next few years and steps up the distance I am convinced she will do some pretty fast times.

“She has had some tough things happen to her but she has stuck at it. She knows now she is a better athlete at 10,000m. Watch this space!”