Eilidh Doyle may have captained the British team and won medals at all the sport’s major championships but, as she prepares to pull on the GB vest at next weekend’s European Indoor Championships in Glasgow, the Scot has been disappointed to discover that British Athletics no longer have faith in her.
“We have just been told that Brian [Doyle, her husband] won’t get a coach’s pass because they have a limited amount and they base it on people they think will win medals and they have obviously decided I won’t!”
The 31-year-old, who has been coached by her husband since the retirement of British Athletics-employed coach Malcolm Arnold, did not qualify automatically, through the British trials, but having been handed the fourth slot in the team and selected to race in both the 400m and the relay, she has been dismayed to learn that she will have to tackle both challenges without her coach.
“I am very angry about it,” said Brian, who is himself a former 400m athlete. “You can’t get every coach in, that is impossible because the warm-up area is not that big.
“My frustration is that Eilidh has performed so often and won so many medals that I feel it is a kick in the teeth that they don’t believe in her… after everything she has done for them, all the medals she has got them that will have got them their bonuses by helping them achieve their targets over the years. I have to watch what I say but I do think it is disrespectful to her and I am very angry about it.”
“You do try to look at it from every perspective,” said Eilidh, who is s massively popular athlete among her peers, “but we do feel that I have been there and done it so many times before, captained the team and turned up, and we do feel a bit disappointed. That is the frustrating thing about sport. So much of it is subjective. Things like funding, sponsors, things like this, it is all based on someone’s opinion of you and whether they think you are good enough.
“I have been around long enough that I will just go there and give my best but it is hard to know that maybe they don’t value everything I’ve done and I feel I have not given them any reason to doubt me but they obviously do.”
Citing a record that includes medals at all the top championships and progression to the final in every event she has entered since 2013, the husband and coach of Scotland’s 2018 Commonwealth Games flag-bearer says she deserves better but they both agree that now the decision has been made, all Doyle can do is go out, try to push the hurt from her mind and try to prove the powers-that-be were wrong to write her off, especially in front of a sell-out Scottish crowd.
“I will still go out there and run to win a medal regardless of whether Brian is there to help me or in the crowd. I don’t do it for them.”