Action from the Age Group Champs at Grangemouth – photo by Bobby Gavin
It has been a thrilling summer for athletics at home and abroad – and what a sense of pride has been engendered by that huge Scottish presence at the Olympics in Rio.
The 15-strong representation with Team GB and NI was the biggest at an Olympics for 108 years.
Domestically, the work continues – 52 weeks a year – to create the kind of platform and pathway which allows Scottish athletes to reach elite level – or be the best they can be.
European Championship medals, a British Record for Laura Muir, Scottish Records in Rio for Lynsey Sharp and Andrew Butchart, and a first Scottish track and field medal for 28 years for Eilidh Doyle in the GB and NI 4 x 400m Women’s relay.
Here, in a special blog post, Interim Chief Executive Mark Munro reflects on the track and field season – and looks ahead and how scottishathletics clubs and members can feed off and contribute to the Olympic momentum.
‘I do believe we are seeing clear evidence that ‘legacy lives strong’ in athletics in Scotland,’ said Mark.
‘Prior to the Olympics in London in 2012, scottishathletics made the strategic decision to put clubs, coaches and people back at the heart of our sport.
‘The sport has embraced these major events and we’ve seen a 45 percent growth in the governing body membership since 2012 and more than 50 percent growth in clubs. In terms of recreational athletics, thousands of new participants are participating in both local and national level events every year.
It’s not by chance that this has happened, but it has taken significant effort by everyone involved at all levels and that hard work will continue for future years.
‘In particular, our international athletes have seen what it takes to reach the higher echelons of the sport and have used London 2012 and Glasgow 2014 as a springboard to further success. You just need to look at London 2012, five Scottish athletes were part of Team GB and none of them made finals.
‘This year, 15 athletes selected, five track and field athletes have reached finals with two national records from Lynsey Sharp and Andy Butchart and a bronze medal from Eilidh Doyle, the first Scottish medal since 1988. We must credit both the athletes, their coaches and their clubs for these fine achievements.
‘The governing body is also acknowledged as leading the way in the UK in relation to new club support initiatives, a greater investment into supporting coaches and a new facilities strategy, which along with sportscotland and local authority partners is seeing a significant investment into new and existing facilities across the country.
‘As we reflect positively on the past four years, we must also look forwards. Continuing growth in participation numbers provides a difficult challenge and we must continue to work with and support clubs, along with ensuring we have enough, and suitably skilled coaches and technical officials to support the growing numbers.
‘However, I am very confident that we will see more people participating, competing regularly and more medal successes in the next few years.’
Improving the knowledge and qualifications of Scottish coaches is a key philosophy for us at scottishathletics.
And attending our Coaching Conference at the Emirates Arena on the weekend of September 24/25 is a great way to do that. There’s a world class lineup being put together and the Conference will appeal to coaches at all levels and across various event groups.