Time has co me to hail go lden era o fSco ttish athletics
Awards event tonight will honour those who have contributed to an astounding year of achievement
S scottishathletics sits down to the annual awards dinner tonight at Glasgow’s Hilton Hotel, guests can reflect on a momentous year. A longrunning tide of mediocrity and stagnation has truly turned, with record books significantly re-written – 54 records set indoors and out across all age groups and unprecedented numbers of Scots in Olympic and Paralympic teams.
It’s the nature of sport that performances improve, but Scotland sometimes has seemed a land where times and distances stand still. Too often we have been obliged to remark on native records which have endured since 1970. Some still do, but it would be perverse to ignore the trend demonstrated by the latest record statistics: more than double the number established five years ago. The 54 records this year (28 outdoors, 26 indoors) compares with 34 (8/26) last year, 56 (26/30) in Commonwealth Games year which always produces a spike in performance, 39 (20/19) in 2013, and 26 (8/18) in 2012. We are grateful to Arnold Black for the data (scotstats.net).
Contenders for athlete of the year accolades tonight have achieved truly landmark performances.
Twice, Andrew Butchart eclipsed the Scottish 5000m record set 36 years ago by Nat Muir. On the second occasion he finished sixth in the Olympics with 13:08.61. To get a handle on the quality of that feat, consider the fact that it is faster than the winning time in eight of the last 12 Olympic Games.
Laura Muir became first Scot to win an overall Diamond Race, lowering Yvonne Murray’s 29-year-old Scottish women’s 1500m record three times, by almost six seconds in total. In doing so she captured the British record which won Olympic gold for Dame Kelly Holmes in 2004. Muir’s time of 3:55.22 would have won every Olympic title bar one since the event was introduced for women at the 1972 Olympics.
Lynsey Sharp and Eilidh Doyle also broke their own Scottish records. Sharp did so in the Olympic final with a time which would have won bronze four years ago in London, while Doyle helped Britain to European relay gold and then relay bronze in Rio.
This made her Scotland’s first Olympic athletics medallist since Liz McColgan and Murray took silver and bronze at 10,000m and 3000m respectively 28 years ago, in Seoul. Doyle also won two Diamond events, improving her own national 400m hurdles mark in Monaco.
McColgan’s daughter, Eilish, and Steph Twell, both made nearsuperhuman recovery from injury to reach the Olympic 5000m final, Twell doing so after having claimed European bronze.
Three Scots in the Olympic men’s marathon was a historic achievement. The best of them, Callum Hawkins, ninth in Rio, recorded 2:10.52 this year in London. This would have won the Olympic title in 1992 and ‘96.
In addition to seven Olympians nominated, there’s hill-runner Andrew Douglas who finished fourth and 11th in the European and World Championships respectively.
Visually-impaired sprinter Libby Clegg captured two Paralympic golds. Her winning time in the 100m, 11.91 seconds, is faster than Tom Burke ran in 1896 to claim the inaugural Olympic 100m title (12.00) in Athens. .
Clegg will be joined in the chase for Para Athlete of the Year honours by a fellow Rio gold medallist, seated thrower Jo Butterfield, and teenage triple sprint medallist Maria Lyle, last year’s winner.
In the wake of London 2012 and Glasgow 2014, national coach Rodger Harkins and his team have laid the foundations of a structure which is already confounding the doom-sayers who rejected post 2012 and 2014 aspirations of legacy.
IT’S 48 years this week since the closing ceremony of the Mexico Olympics where the long and high jumps made history.
The former was famous for the world record (8.90m) by Bob Beamon, and the latter for Dick Fosbury, credited with inventing the head-first “flop” style.
The long jump best had improved by
GOLDEN GIRL: Visually-impaired Team Great Britain sprinter Libby Clegg po seswith her 100m Paralympic go ld medal in Rio de Janeiro .