Front cover of the new edition of PB magazine issued this weekend (all photos by Bobby Gavin)
Athletics in Scotland can show real ‘resilience’ to thrive and grow in a difficult landscape for the sport globally.
That’s the message from chief executive Mark Munro in his column in PB magazine, being issued to 14,000 scottishathletics members this week.
Munro wrote the column shortly before the coronavirus situation escalated and, at that time, was reacting to doping headlines around the screening of Panorama and leadership issues at UK Athletics.
If anything, and in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, the key message holds even more weight now – that the best option for the sport in Scotland is to stick together to ride out storm clouds.
‘I write this on the back of a massive high of pure Scottish camaraderie at the Lindsays Scottish XC at Falkirk and the SPAR British Indoor Championships in Glasgow and following a number of weeks of Scottish record breaking successes on the international circuit, not least a young Jemma Reekie,’ writes Mark in PB magazine.
‘However, I’ve woken up this morning with the harsh reality of widespread allegations of unethical ‘cheating’ by the UK’s most successful athlete of all time and question marks about the culture set by a few individuals within our UK body.
‘It is disheartening when we work so hard to develop our wonderful sport in this country from the grassroots right through to elite athletes and coaches.
‘True spirit of our sport’ – Lindsays National XC at Falkirk (photo by Bobby Gavin)
‘Whilst we are not perfect and there are lots of areas to improve on, the sport in Scotland is well connected, both strategically through the national strategy (Building a Culture of Success) and in practice – on the ground where it really matters.
‘I think all the athletes, coaches, volunteers, supporters and spectators at the recent Lindsays National XC at Callendar Park showed the true spirit of the sport and demonstrated resilience on a terrible day in tough, tough conditions.
The word resilience is the key and athletics in Scotland must be resilient whilst these challenges go on around us at UK and global level.
‘We must believe in what we are trying to achieve in Scotland and continue to drive forward setting the (moral) bar high and sticking to our principles.
‘Within the wider UK context, I’m sure that from helplessness will come opportunity.
‘We will work with sportscotland, UK Sport, UK Athletics and the other Home Countries to support the reconfiguration of the sport across the UK and imminently, both our Chair, Ian Beattie, and myself will be contributing to the UK Sport‘s review of UK Athletics to help create a plan to move the sport move forward.
IT'S ON, JUST DIFFERENT
We're starting to see all sorts of variation from athletes, clubs, coaches
*please observe guidelines and might be tough for certain events . . .#SALtogether@SALMarkMunro @SAL_Coaching @SALDevelopment @MaguireSal @scotshurdler https://t.co/I2UnYAwaEf
— scottishathletics (@scotathletics) March 20, 2020
‘Reflecting back on further positives, we must thank all clubs, coaches and athletes – the number of athletes competing over the winter has been extremely strong culminating in the largest field in the Lindsays National XC in the modern era.
‘We’ve also witnessed great numbers across the indoor campaign and within the masters cross country championships as well.
‘Whilst celebrating these successes it is crucial that we do not take our eye of the ball in relation to some of the younger age groups, particularly at U13 and U15 levels,.
‘I know the development team are reviewing those numbers and trends and will be communicating these in due course.
‘We have also seen a growth in the number of licensed coaches in the country this year, with over 3,000 coaches now holding a license.
‘This reflects the growth in club memberships across most clubs in the country and demonstrates excellent pro-activity by clubs.’
Mark Munro and the magazine article in the new edition of PB