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

The Herald - Herald Sport - - FEATURE - DOUG GILLON

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.

ANDANOTHERTHING...

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 .

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