Scottish Athletics are today celebrating their best return in terms of World Championship selection for 30 years with seven Scots named in the British team for Moscow next month.
The “magnificent seven” are Chris O’Hare (Edinburgh AC), 1500 metres, Jamie Bowie (Inverness Harriers), 4x400m relay, Eilidh Child (Pitreavie), 400m hurdles and 4x400m relay, Laura Muir (Dundee), 800m, Eilish McColgan (Dundee), 3000m steeplechase, Kirsten McAslan (Manchester), 4x400m relay, and Susan Partridge (Glasgow), marathon.
O’Hare, Bowie, Muir and McAslan will also be making their first appearance at this level. Not since the 1983 Worlds in Helsinki, when the likes of Allan Wells, Chris Black and Meg Ritchie were in the team, has there been such a strong showing.
It might have been one more this time had British Athletics not taken a surprisingly strict line on Steph Twell, who has been omitted despite winning the 5000m title in the World Trials in Birmingham last weekend and having the B qualifying standard.
Having missed the Oympics last year through injury, the Aldershot club member, a medallist for Scotland in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, has been particularly unlucky and is surely not considered over the hill at 23.
Child, who was a “shoo-in” for her third World Championships, commented via social media that she thought “one Scot had been unfairly treated”.
Happily the selectors have chosen Capital star Chris O’Hare, who was in a similar position to Twell having won the 1500m at the Trials but not having achieved the automatic A standard. O’Hare came into the category of someone who had not previously competed in an individual event at either the Olympics or World Championships and is considered a potential future finalist.
“A huge thank you to everyone who helped me here,” said O’Hare, who stressed: “West Linton cross country is where I learned my trade.”
Capital resident Jamie Bowie, who works as an athletics development officer for East Lothian, is in the strange position of having been picked for Britain for the World Championship 4x400m relay but is by no means certain to be chosen for the Glasgow 2014 Games because the qualifying standard (45.45) is so severe.
Scottish women’s 400m champion Kirsten McAslan, whose Edinburgh mother Fiona (nee Hargreaves) ran in the 1986 Commonwealth Games, is in a similar position, having set a new best of 52.85 in Birmingham which earned her a 4x400 spot in Moscow but is still well outside the Glasgow 2014 required time of 52.40.
One man delighted with the selections is Scotland’s Director of Coaching Stephen Maguire, who said: “There have been a lot of encouraging signs over the last few months and this is another huge boost for everyone connected with athletics in Scotland.
“We’ve been talking a lot about potential and now we’re seeing that being translated into performances.
“I’m hugely energised and invigorated by this and would stress again the work done by the personal coaches and those involved with these seven athletes – many congratulations to them all.
“This kind of thing gives a lift to the dedicated people who work hard at clubs on a weekly basis throughout the winter.”
Meanwhile, reigning 100m champion Yohan Blake has withdrawn from the World Championships because of a hamstring injury. The 23-year-old Jamaican has been nursing the injury since April and did not compete in the national trials, but was an automatic qualifier for Moscow having won gold in Daegu in 2011 after team-mate Usain Bolt false-started.
“This decision was made after continual assessment and re-evaluations since his withdrawal from the Jamaican Senior Championships,” said Blake’s manager Cubie Seegobin.
“Yohan has made vast improvement, although the injury sustained in April of this year has prevented him from attaining the necessary fitness levels that we have grown accustomed to seeing in his competition performances.”
Blake’s withdrawal further weakens a 100m field already without Tyson Gay, the fastest man in the world this year, who tested positive for a banned substance, and Asafa Powell, who also returned a positive test but had not qualified.