Rodger Harkins – short-list had to be longer to reflect 2016 achievements
No fewer than eight top Scots have been short-listed for the Scottish Athlete of the Year title – with the winner to be revealed later this month.
Seven Olympians from Rio as well as GB international hill runner, Andy Douglas, are in the running for the coveted title.
scottishathletics have taken the decision to extend the short-list from the more usual three-to-five names in order to fully recognise and acknowledge an extraordinary year for the sport north of the border.
Eilidh Doyle, Lynsey Sharp and Laura Muir have monopolised the Athlete of the Year crown for the current decade and all three – who all reached Olympic finals and broke the Scottish Record in the 2016 season – are listed.
Andrew Butchart, who has claimed two long-standing Scottish records and was sixth in the 5000m final in Rio, joins them as well as great Scottish Run winner and Olympic marathon top ten finisher Callum Hawkins as well as Eilish McColgan and European 5000m bronze medallist, Steph Twell.
The winner will be revealed at the scottishathletics Annual Awards Dinner at the Hilton Hotel in Glasgow on Saturday 29 October, with a panel facing tough decisions there and also for the Para Athlete of the Year award, where the six Scots who brought home seven medals from Brazil are short-listed.
(Short-lists in alphabetical order)
Athlete of the Year:
Andrew Butchart; Andrew Douglas; Eilidh Doyle; Callum Hawkins; Eilish McColgan; Laura Muir; Lynsey Sharp; Steph Twell
Para Athlete of the Year:
Jo Butterfield; Libby Clegg; Maria Lyle; Sammi Kinghorn; Derek Rae; Stef Reid
U20 Athlete of the Year:
George Evans; Josh Kerr; Alisha Rees; Cameron Tindle; Shelby Watson
U17 Athlete of the Year:
Maria Lyle; Holly McArthur; Alessandro Schenini; Erin Wallace
Masters Athlete of the Year:
Philippa Millage; Claire Thompson; Kerry-Liam Wilson
‘I think we can safely say that the bar was set high this year for Scottish Athlete of the Year awards – probably the highest it has been for at least a couple of decades,’ said Director of Coaching Rodger Harkins.
‘When we sat down to consider all the candidates we actually had to start off with a decision not to restrict the short-list too much.
‘We felt strongly that it wouldn’t be fair to exclude an athlete who had been through a tough qualifying process to make Team GB and Ni for the Olympics in Rio and had then either finished in the top ten – like Callum in the marathon – or had made the final in their event by coming through a heat.
‘That formula, if you like, helped us arrive at the list of eight names and hill runner Andrew Douglas has had an excellent season proving himself the best in Britain and with high finishes in the European Champs and World Champs in that discipline.
‘Just looking back at some of those names makes you realise the wide range of achievement.
‘Butchart and Sharp both broke the Scottish Record in their Olympic finals; Laura Muir became the first Scot to win the Diamond Race which is the very top echelon of the sport; Eilish McColgan defied her own expectations on return from injury to post PB performances and reach an Olympic final and Steph Twell took an individual bronze at the European Champs in Holland.
‘Eilidh Doyle broke her Scottish Record, won a relay gold at the Euros and then a relay bronze in Rio – the first Scot to medal at an Olympics for 28 years in track and field.
‘For Callum Hawkins to finish ninth in the Olympic marathon was superb but should not have been a real surprise given his London Marathon performance and, of course, we’ve now seen that again in Glasgow.
‘So, while it is a difficult decision for us, it is one you would always love to have!
‘I congratulate all those athletes short-listed and the coaches involved in helping them reach these levels. Our Coach of the Year categories have tested us, as well, with five names on the Performance Coach of the Year award list.
‘In the U20 list, we also have three athletes who reached their finals at the World Juniors (George Evans, Josh Kerr and Cameron Tindle); a European U18 medallist (Alisha Rees) and a world class Para athlete (Shelby Watson). And then the Para Athlete of the Year one itself is another really tough choice.
‘I can’t speak too highly of the Scottish athletes who have been in Rio this summer, both Olympians and Paralympians, and that will be reflected at the Awards Dinner.
‘But we remember, too, that the sport in Scotland also covers hill running, ultra, cross country, Clubs, Officials and Volunteers and it is right to celebrate that involvement at the Annual Dinner.’
The Para Athlete of the Year short-list features two Rio gold medallists from the Paralympics – sprinter Libby Clegg and seated thrower Jo Butterfield – and 16-yeaar-old triple medallist, Maria Lyle. Lyle won the 2015 award.
*Tickets for the Annual Awards Dinner are £40 per person (again) and we’re making plans for a terrific night on Saturday 29 October at the Hilton Hotel in Glasgow.
We’ve that big list of Olympians and Paralympians to celebrate with and former GB sprinter, Derek Redmond, is our Guest of Honour – no doubt with a few stories to tell!