Megan and Hannah set for World Cross . . . as coach Lynne reflects

Wednesday 15th February 2023

Hannah Ryding and Megan Keith (photos by Bobby Gavin)

Megan and Hannah picked for World Cross

The years fell away and the memories flooded back for Olympian and coach Lynne Macdougall when Giffnock North AC’s Hannah Ryding was picked for the World Cross in Australia.

In her teens, Macdougall twice represented Scotland (rather than GB and NI as is now the case) at the World Cross.

‘I went to Rome and to Madrid and it was probably two of the toughest races of my life,’ recalled Lynne.

‘There was no Junior Women’s race at that time; it was everyone in and at the age of 16 (Madrid, 1981) and 17 (Rome, 1982) suddenly I was racing with the Seniors. Yvonne Murray and Liz McColgan were there with Scotland as well!

‘So everywhere you turned there were strong athletes. But it was still a good experience to compete in a World Champs in cross country so early in my career.

‘I spoke to Hannah about it before she left for Australia and we chatted about being part of a representative team at a global event and the importance of enjoyment and learning as much as possible.’

When still only aged 19, Macdougall was 11th in the Women’s 1500m final at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. But she certainly would not mention it unless asked directly about it.

Modest to a fault, it’s abundantly clear therefore that Lynne’s only motivation for the meander down memory lane was simply to try and help the athlete she has coached for the past two of three years.

Lynne Macdougall oversees her group on a training night at Giffnock North (photo by Bobby Gavin) 

Lynne Macdougall profile

Dealing with ups and downs in your athletics is a message which cuts across generations. Even within Giffnock North, there are current examples like Neil Gourley and Hamish Armitt to name but two.

As it happens, Hannah has already proved herself in this regard with pre-Christmas disappointment over missing selection for the Euro Cross in Italy turning to joy and excitement about the trip to Bathurst.

‘We had an eye on the GB and NI team for Turin and the Euro Cross,’ said Lynne.

‘We were hoping that would be Hannah’s British vest but she did not have her best run in the trial at Liverpool. She picked herself up and ran well at Perth in the British Cross Challenge event that was effectively a trial for the World Cross in the U20 age group.

‘Then the call came in that she had been picked and did she want to represent GB in Bathurst? It’s a long way to go but we talked about it and Hannah felt it was too good an opportunity to miss.

‘It’s a team of 17 so possibly not as daunting as a large British team. Megan Keith is there with the Senior Women and there’s even Alexandra Bell in the relay as someone with great experience who I think Hannah would benefit from meeting and talking to.

‘As an U20, it is all about learning. The course and the conditions will be completely different from anything in cross country in Scotland.

‘For the last few sessions before the team left, we had her wearing more layers to try and replicate feeling uncomfortably warmer while still racing.

‘It is 6k and you can be certain a lot of folk will start very fast so Hannah will need to try and cope with that. She did improve her 1500m speed significantly last summer (4:31 to 4:22) so hopefully that helps.’

Keeping it fun is always an important part of club training sessions (photo by Bobby Gavin)

Giffnock team-mates and coaches will support Hannah from afar.

Guiding more youngsters towards the international pathway is a key Giffnock goal – although keeping athletes in the sport is another target the club are keen to emphasise.

‘Not everyone is a superstar and young athletes develop at different rates,’ added Lynne.

‘I can have a group as big as 18-20 at U17 level at Giffnock and want to keep nurturing them and encouraging them.

‘Yes, for ones like Hannah there are roles models like Neil, Hamish, Erin Wallace, Duncan Robinson and others who step up to a high level. But that doesn’t apply to everyone and coaching is about working with everyone.

‘We lose young athletes to moving away for education so are working hard to build and maintain contact with them so they hopefully return to wearing a Giffnock vest later on.’

Hannah for her part has already been in the sport around eight years and not so very long ago would be crossing the mud at Pollok Park and Bellahouston Park at Glasgow Athletics Association group sessions.

Her pathway in fact mirrors that of Megan Keith in the North League in that regard, with both progressing to medal success at Falkirk at the Lindsays National XC.

Megan, coached by Ross Cairns, is not yet 21 but has already amassed plenty of international experience after medals in successive years at the Euro Cross.

Plenty to discuss, therefore, as the GB team prepare for races on Saturday at the marvellously named Mount Panorama in Bathurst, New South Wales.

We wish both Megan and Hannah and all the team the very best for the races in Australia . . .

*Good luck to Shettleston Harriers athlete, Seyed Taha Ghafari, who is in Bathurst after being selected for the International Refugee Team.

Megan Keith in one of her very first outings and then landing silver at the Euro Cross U23 Women’s race



Tags: Hannah Ryding, Lynne MacDougall, Megan Keith, World Cross

Expand Social Feeds