Commonwealth Games athletics success for Scotland could lead to increased funding for better facilities

Scottish Athletics hopes the success of its track stars at the Commonwealth Games will lead to increased funding to build new facilities and encourage more people from deprived areas to take up the sport.

Eilish McColgan's 10,000m gold medal was a defining moment of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Eilish McColgan's 10,000m gold medal was a defining moment of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Scotland’s athletics team won eight medals in Birmingham last week, their best performance at a Commonwealth Games for 40 years.

Eilish McColgan and Laura Muir both struck gold, with McColgan’s success in particular capturing the public’s imagination. Her gutsy victory in the 10,000 metres was arguably the defining moment of the Games and saw her emulate her mother Liz who won the same event in 1986 and 1990.

Scottish Athletics, the governing body, hopes the sport’s heightened profile will help it access more public funding.

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“As an organisation we want to build,” said David Ovens, the chair of Scottish Athletics. “There’s obviously a lot of interest around athletics. What we’re really motivated to do as a governing body is to try to encourage people into athletics.

“If you want to participate in athletics you need facilities to do that. People think athletics is an accessible sport and it should be, on the face of it, one of the most accessible sports. But you need good quality facilities.

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“We’ve done a lot of work over the last year in identifying where these facilities should be built and optimising that so people from the most deprived communities can access the sport.

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David Ovens, chair of Scottish Athletics. Picture: Bobby Gavin

“So that's something we’re going to be publishing in the next week or two and we’d hope to be able to leverage the interest to try to generate some funding support, hopefully from central government but also from local authorities to try to unlock that strategy.

“I’ve met with Humza Yousaf, the cabinet secretary for health, and Maree Todd, the minister for sport and there was fantastic engagement from them and we’ll continue that conversation.”

Plans for a new £3 million indoor facility in the east of Scotland were at an advanced stage in 2019 but were effectively mothballed when Covid struck. Meadowbank in Edinburgh recently reopened after a £47 million revamp.

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Scotland’s top athletes will return to action next week, with 13 selected by the British team for the European Championships in Munich. Scotland will stage a major championship of its own in 2014 when Glasgow hosts the World Indoors.

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