Eilidh Doyle can’t believe it has been so long but is relishing the chance to race in front of a Scottish crowd for the first time since the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Hampden, where she won a silver medal in the women’s 400m hurdles.
Doyle has confirmed she will be taking part in Müller Indoor Grand Prix in Glasgow at the Emirates Arena on Sunday 25 February, which is a highlight of the indoor season.
Glasgow hosted the event in 2016 and has been alternating with Birmingham, which next year hosts the World Indoor Championships the following weekend and the British Championship and trials earlier in February.
Tickets for the Glasgow event go on sale today and Doyle believes it is a great opportunity to see a big contingent of the Scottish athletes who enjoyed a stellar 2017, with 16 of them making the Great Britain team for the IAAF World Championships in London in August.
“It’s going to be amazing. Having a big event in Scotland is great as it is but especially off the back of the year the Scottish athletes have had, getting so many of them into the World Championships team,” said the 30-year-old from Perth.
“Everyone has been talking about how well we are all doing so for a Scottish crowd to get to come along and see us in such a big event is great. It’s the biggest indoor event outside of the major championships and the athletes and crowds they get are always amazing.”
Doyle’s career has been perfectly timed to coincide with a feast of home championships and she will be using the Emirates event, running the flat 400m, to tune up for another major meet on a home track. There is, of course, another on the horizon with Glasgow to host next year’s European Indoor Championship.
“I’ve been so lucky,” said Doyle. “A lot of athletes are fortunate if they get one big championship in their home country.
“My first Olympics was a home championships then winning a medal at a home Commonwealth Games and another medal at a home world championships – and now there is Birmingham to look forward to.
“I don’t think people appreciate how much of an advantage it gives you to get that support from a home crowd. It’s just brilliant. I think in 20 years or so when I’m long finished I’ll look back and feel very fortunate to have had all these home Games experiences.”
Doyle captained the British team at this summer’s memorable world championships, which attracted packed crowds for all of the ten days at London’s Olympic Stadium. She achieved her goal of reaching the 400m hurdles final in what is one of the hottest events in athletics at the moment, finishing last, but finished on a high with another relay medal for her collection with a silver in the women’s 4x400m. Aberdeen’s Zoey Clark made it a half-Scottish quartet.
Former European champion and two-time individual Commonwealth Games silver-medallist, Child now has four major relay medals to her name, with her 2013 world championship bronze upgraded to silver due to Russian cheating and bronzes at the 2016 Rio Olympics and 2015 world championship.
Now eight weeks into her winter training programme, Doyle looks back on the summer with pride.
“I had a couple of races after London and then had three weeks off so I was catching up on the iPlayer,” she said. “You never get a chance at the time and it was good. And to watch other people as well, not just my own races.”
The prospect of a major individual global outdoor medal may be fading but Doyle remains as motivated as ever. Next year’s Commonwealth Games in Australia’s Gold Coast, Europeans in Berlin and, of course, further relay chances, still drive her on.
“It just carries on as usual, really,” she said. “Before you know it you’re back into your winter training and your routine that you’ve built up over the years.
“The focus is now on the indoor season. Training is coming together well and it’s about using the indoors to see where I am. Testing my speed over the flat 400. Having this event in Glasgow is ideal for me ahead of the World Indoors, if selected for that, and it will be great to run in front of a Scottish crowd for the first time since the Commonwealth Games. It’s crazy that it’s been almost four years.”
After the world indoors in Birmingham, the Commonwealth Games provide an early start to the outdoor season. Scottish star Laura Muir won’t be there as she concentrates on her veterinary medicine exams at Glasgow University, but there is no shortage of Scottish prospects heading Down Under.
“It’s not ideal but you just have to work around it,” said Doyle of the timing. “You have to make adjustments, plan it. My coach Malcolm Arnold has a lot of experience of it and we’ll get to Australia with me in the best shape I can possibly be in.
“Obviously it’s a shame Laura won’t be there but it’s going to be great for us to go out there and get back to being that more intimate Scottish team.”
l The Müller Indoor Grand Prix Glasgow takes place at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena on 25 February 2018. Tickets go on general sale from 2pm on Thursday 30th November at www.britishathletics.org.uk/events-and-tickets/