Muir’s coach vents his frustration over Scottish Athletics funding
UK ATHLETICS chiefs will be asked to broker a truce between Scottish Athletics and middle-distance star Laura Muir after the country’s development system came under fire from the Olympic medal prospect’s coach Andy Young.
The former international has called on Sports Minister Jamie Hepburn to re-assess the help given to elite performers based in Scotland via the £16 million allocated to high performance through funding agency Sportscotland while accusing the governing body of failing to provide the basic resources required to back their homegrown hopefuls.
Muir is among the few leading Scottish athletes in recent times to have remained on home soil while others have sought specialist assistance elsewhere in the UK or overseas. But Young, who has been seeking sponsorship to set up an academy in Glasgow, has revealed he rejected a chance to relocate to UKA’s base in Loughborough, a move that might have seen his protégé follow suit.
“Had I chosen to apply for that job and been successful and Laura had followed me out of Scotland this would just be another example in a long line of brain drain and talent leaving Scotland like so many athletes before her: Eilidh Child, Lynsey Sharp, Chris O’Hare,” he said. “It would have just reinforced the notion that if you want to win global medals in sport, you need to leave Scotland because as a country we cannot provide the correct level of support to our athletes and coaches.”
Young vented his frustration in a strongly-worded open letter to Scottish Athletics chief executive Nigel Holl. And although one senior figure in the sport attested to a “clash of personalities” between the pair, it is likely that UKA’s endurance supremo Barry Fudge will be asked to find a solution with Muir now funded by UK Sport’s Lottery-backed world-class performance programme.
“Financial support for your coach can only be considered by UK Athletics,” Holl said in an email sent to Muir and Young. “Sportscotland have no remit or capacity in this area.”
Muir banished the dispute from her mind to cement her place in the British team for next month’s European crosscountry championships in France on Saturday by qualifying as the leading Under-23 performer at the UK trials in Liverpool. The 22-year-old was fifth overall in the women’s race, won by reigning European champion Gemma Steel, with fellow Scots Steph Twell and Maddie Murray also securing spots in the field for Hyeres on 13 December.
“I went for it,” Muir said. “I’m pleased to have finished highly and booked my place in France. It will be a lot faster course out there and hopefully better weather as well.”
Scottish champion Andy Butchart, who faded from leading to 13th, will sit out but Luke Traynor, who flew back from Oklahoma for the race, is set for selection in the men’s under-23 field after coming fifth. “I only got back to Glasgow on Thursday,” he revealed. “So I have to be quite happy with this performance.”
Meanwhile, Commonwealth Games Federation president Louise Martin has revealed the Bahamas are ready to step in and stage the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games after original hosts St Lucia backed out.
DISPUTE: Laura Muir is involved in row over financial support for athletes