Eilidh Child wins Scottish Athlete of Year award

EILIDH Child has been named as the KUKRI Scottish Athlete of the Year for 2013 after a successful season on the track.

Eilidh Child was presented with her award at a dinner in Glasgow on Saturday. Picture: Contributed

The Great Britain international 400 metres hurdler and relay runner was honoured at a dinner in Glasgow on Saturday night.

Child saw off the challenge of five other short-listed athletes and Scottishathletics director of coaching Stephen Maguire believes Child’s coronation confirms her status as the sport’s current No 1 performer north of the Border.

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Libby Clegg collected the HAVEN Para Athlete of the Year award for the second successive year. The Para sprinter had been among those shortlisted for the main award. Clegg and four other athletes who went to Moscow for Team GB comprised the Athlete of the Year nominations but Child’s European indoor medals, Scottish records and relay bronze at the World Championships in Moscow, as well as fifth place in the hurdles final, proved persuasive for the governing body’s selection panel.

“Eilidh is Athlete of the Year and I think very deservedly so,” said Maguire.

“To put it bluntly: she has upped her game in 2013. Eilidh was a little disappointed to say the least with her London 2012 performance when she went out at the semi-final stage in the 400m hurdles.

“The clear objective for this year was to reach the final in Moscow and start to make a name for herself at the top level on the world stage. Her coach, Malcolm Arnold, came up with an indoor season plan as part of a way of achieving that and I think it worked extremely well. Eilidh won two medals in one day in Gothenburg at the European Indoors when she took a silver in the 400m and a gold in the 4 x 400m relay.

“That gave her the base for the outdoor season and more Scottish records followed. In Moscow, she finished fifth in the hurdles final and won the bronze in the team event.

“I felt that was a very good performance and Eilidh can approach her peak over the next couple of years. Glasgow 2014 will be huge for her in front of a home crowd, of course, but she’s looking at Rio 2016 as well.’

Maguire feels the quality on the short-list this year was hugely encouraging for athletics in Scotland in a year during which Lynsey Sharp, holder of the title for the past two years, was out injured while Lee McConnell missed competition through pregnancy and Freya Ross through injury. “We’d six very good athletes on the short-list this time around and that was more than last year,” he said.

“That was deliberate because we wanted to acknowledge some very good performance. Eilish McColgan set a Scottish record in Moscow, Susan Partridge was tenth in the world, for example, and Chris O’Hare came over from the United States to win the British title and then make the final in Moscow.

“These are world class performances and while nobody will get carried away – winter work is vital now in readiness for 2014 – there are definitely some promising signs for the sport in Scotland.”

Clegg, who won silver medals in the T12 100m and 200m at the IPC World Champs in Lyon, edged out home-based wheelchair pair Meggan Dawson-Farrell and Samantha Kinghorn for the Para Athlete of the Year title.

European U20 medallists Nick Percy and Jake Wightman shared the honours in that age-group with Wightman having won gold in Italy at 1500m with silver medallist Percy following up his age-group success with a Scottish senior title and early selection for the Commonwealth Games – at 18.