Scotland’s Eilidh Doyle expressed her “shock” and “delight” yesterday at being elected by her fellow athletes as Great Britain team captain for next month’s IAAF World Championships in London.
The 30-year-old former European champion and two-time Commonwealth Games 400m hurdles silver medallist will lead the home team in next month’s highly anticipated event, getting the nod over some high-profile candidates, including Sir Mo Farah, who will be making his last-ever major track appearance as he goes for yet another 5,000m-10,000m double.
“I have chatted to people about it and talked about who we thought might get it. I never thought I would ever have been thought about, so it’s really special,” said Doyle, who will also be part of the 4x400m relay squad in London.
“I thought there would be others above me. You just look at the team and see the experience and achievements and it’s a huge team [of 78]. It wasn’t that I thought I wouldn’t be able to do something like this, just that I thought others would be chosen ahead of me.”
Farah takes star billing at the championships, which run from 4-13 August at the London Olympic Stadium, alongside a similar final track bow for megastar Usain Bolt, and Doyle was surprised to be chosen ahead of the multiple major medallist.
“Yes of course Mo was always the name that came up top of the list when we chatted about it,” said the Pitreavie runner from Perth. “Obviously [Olympic champion long jumper] Greg Rutherford too with all the huge memories of London and that stadium. I had my bets on them.
“I was really surprised. I was actually on my way back from Monaco. [GB athletics performance director] Neil Black must have phoned me when I was flying but I landed back and had a voicemail from him, not really giving anything away in it, so you always get that kind of concern, like ‘why is Neil Black phoning me?’.
“The team captaincy was the last thing I thought he would be phoning for so when we did get in touch it was a shock.
“It was such a nice phone call to get. I’m delighted.”
Doyle certainly hadn’t voted for herself in the team ballot and revealed she had gone for one of the 12 other Scots in the GB team. “I actually voted for [5,000m runner] Steph Twell,” she said.
“Steph has been one of my close friends for the past few years and somebody who, when I’ve been on teams with her, she’s been someone who can pick you up and be positive and have such a good feel about athletics.
“She went to her first Olympics at 18 [in Beijing] and has had battles with injury since and was someone who was so desperate to make the team for London 2012 and unfortunately couldn’t because of injury.
“I’ve known a lot of the Scottish athletes through the years. Either on GB teams or Scottish teams together, or come through the junior ranks. The Scots are now not just part of the team but going there to compete with the best in the world and go for medals.”
Doyle is still looking for a first individual global medal but knows just reaching the final in London will take all of her effort and experience. At the recent US trials, the top three, led by Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad, all went under the magic 53-second mark.
Doyle, whose personal best is 54.09, said: “I’m going to have to run every race like it’s a final. It’s so stacked this year. You’ve got all the Americans who absolutely smashed it at their trials and then strong Europeans like [Zuzana] Hejnova and [Sara Slott] Peterson and the Jamaicans, too.”