Three Scottish athletes are headed for Spain this weekend to compete for GB and NI at the European Combined Events International match in Madrid.
The selections are another compliment to rising standards in CE in Scotland with Andrew Murphy, Holly McArthur and Joel McFarlane within a 14-strong British team.
And it is a special moment for Arbroath and District AC and National Academy athlete Joel, our FPSG Scottish U17 Athlete of the Year for 2017, as he wins his first GB vest after stepping up to U20 level with a Scottish heptathlon record (5099 points) and silver medal at the England Athletics indoor champs earlier this month.
‘Joel is both excited and a wee bit nervous I think ahead of the weekend – and really looking forward to his first international competition,’ said dad Ian, who also coaches Joel.
‘It is early in the year and he has only just moved up to the U20 age group, so we were very pleased with his performance in early January in Sheffield which set a new Scottish record.
‘We have some targets for 2018 worked out already and hopefully this will be a really good experience for him – taking on some of the best young Combined Events athletes from around Europe.
‘It’s great that Andrew and Holly are there, too, because the CE community in Scotland is such that they all know each other very well and support each other. I think that’s helpful for him even just for the first part of the journey south to join the British Athletics team.’
Joel McFarlane and his dad/coach Ian at the FPSG Annual Awards – as Laura Muir presented the U17 Athlete of the Year trophy (photo by Bobby Gavin)
Going the extra mile is nothing new for the McFarlanes, of course. A regular week of training can see athlete and coach working at two, three or four different venues.
‘It depends on the time of year, of course, and while we do use the grass at Arbroath in the summer that’s not usually possible in the winter,’ said Ian, with Joel’s best events long jump, high jump and hurdles.
‘The track at Caird Park in Dundee is closed at the moment for redevelopment so we’re using places like Aberdeen and Pitreavie and we are also at Grangemouth quite regularly. It means clocking up quite a few miles simply in order to keep the training going.
‘Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it out to Spain this weekend with other commitments and with other athletes that I coach involved at the Emirates Arena for the Seniors and U17s.
Andrew Murphy of Kilbarchan, who is coached by Colin Sinclair, will make another appearance for GB at Senior level after returning to international duty last summer while Whitemoss/Edinburgh AC athlete Holly McArthur, who is coached by Iain McEwan, is in the Junior Women’s selection – with the teenager already confirmed for Team Scotland for Gold Coast 2018.
British Athletics have selected full teams the senior and junior categories at the competition which pits the squad against Czech Republic, France, Poland and Spain.
McArthur is supported by the British Athletics Futures Academy Programme in 2018. Holly set the Scottish U20 heptathlon record last summer – 5687 points – and will compete in her first Commonwealth Games for Scotland in April. She is also on our National Academy programme – as is Joel.