‘Athlete of the Year short-list decisions were really tough,’ says Rodger Harkins
Two World Championship medallists and two National Record breakers will contest the Scottish Athlete of the Year title for 2015.
The Annual Awards Dinner at the Hilton Hotel on Saturday 31 October will see the title awarded in the main category as well as three other age groups.
And the quality of performances over the course of the year is exemplified by the main short-list which features Eilidh Child, Laura Muir, Lynsey Sharp and Robbie Simpson.
The U20 contenders are George Evans, Josh Kerr and Jack Lawrie with three short-listed at U17 – Ben Greenwood, Alisha Rees and Erin Wallace. The Masters Athlete of the Year nominations are Fiona Davidson, Kerry-Liam Wilson and Joasia Zakrzewski.
Rodger Harkins, scottishathletics Director of Coaching, was part of the panel who make the Athlete of the Year selections and he admitted the process was challenging given the decisions that had to be made.
We can now reveal the short-lists in the main, U20, U17 and Masters categories and all at scottishathletics would like to offer our firm congratulations to those named, their families, their coaches and the clubs involved in their development over the years.
Please note, the Para Athlete of the Year award this year has been postponed because of the timing of the IPC World Championships in Doha (with four Scots in the GB team). We will look to announce a short-list and winner for this at some time during November.
‘Selecting the short-lists was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in that field,’ said Rodger.
‘I’ve been involved in the sport for a number of years and while this was the first time I’ve had a say in ‘Athlete of the Year’ I have experience of sitting on selection panels many times. As I say, this one was tough!
‘That’s down to the quality of performances by Scottish athletes at various levels across the disciplines and in various age group bands. I suspect we may have quite a few athletes disappointed not to make short-lists but, again, I think that reflects on the quality overall.
‘We started out with a dozen contenders for the main award, for example. That’s a dozen Scots who at Senior level had made a significant impact on the sport at British, European and World level over the past year.
‘Eventually we manged to bring that down to a short-list of four and within that there are two athletes who medalled at World Champs, Eilidh Child and Robbie Simpson, and two who set new National Records, Laura Muir and Lynsey Sharp. So I really do think we can justifiably say the bar was set high this year.
‘Eilidh Child has once again been at the top end of her event. She’s at that level through hard work and consistency and while there were some changes in her stride pattern for the hurdles I’m sure she will feel on top of that for Rio.
‘She made a big contribution to the 4 x 400m relay in Beijing to come home with another global medal and Eilidh had also picked up a bronze at the IAAF World Relays in the Bahamas early in the season and won the 400m Hurdles at the European Team Champs as well as the British title.
‘Laura Muir has had a super season. When you look back, there were a number of good performances like the Diamond League win in Oslo, PBs at 3000m and 800m, the British Champs gold and of course that new National Record in Monaco when she became the first Scottish woman under four minutes for 1500m.
‘And then, in Beijing, of course she came through two rounds and took some significant scalps to finish fifth in the World Champs final – in a race where there up to 10 real top-quality athletes.
‘Lynsey was in great shape most of the season for fast times and I think overall she proved that Beijing was a blip – albeit that it was a crazy line-up and crazy race in that semi-final. Crazy in terms of the speed and the quality, I mean.
‘She came out a couple of weeks later at Berlin and ran that National Record in Berlin and getting to 1.57 was a fantastic way to end the season.
‘Robbie Simpson has been making a great impact in hill running at international level for a few years now and indeed medalled at the Europeans in 2014.
‘He was fourth this year at the Europeans but stepped-up at the World Champs in Wales to win a bronze – and help GB to bronze medals in the team race. Robbie was in there mixing it with Ugandans and Italians that day who are the very best in the world and there’s no doubt about the level he has now reached.
‘It was a similar story at U20 and at U17 – very hard to pick short-lists never mind the winners. That’s because so many Scots have competed at levels like Euro U20, World Youths and Commonwealth Youth Games this summer. The panel had to make some tough decisions.
‘Equally, our Masters athletes who are short-listed proved their quality at a World level – across whatever discipline they are involved in.’
Short-lists (in alphabetical order):
Athlete of the Year:
U20 Athlete of the Year:
U17 Athlete of the Year:
Masters Athlete of the Year: