‘Self-belief taking Scots to top of world – they set a brilliant example’

Friday 5th April 2024

David Ovens and Eilish McColgan pictured at our Club Conference in October 2022 (photo by Bobby Gavin)

‘Grangemouth made me the athlete I am now’ – Josh Kerr

David Ovens, Chair of Scottish Athletics, has looked back at the World Indoors in Glasgow and forward to an exciting summer ahead.

Here’s his column from the new edition of PB magazine . . .

‘At the time of writing this piece for PB, the World Indoor Championships have just finished in Glasgow and we are celebrating another set of fantastic performances by the Scottish athletes involved, who are now proving themselves to be consistently amongst the very best in the world.

‘Mondo Duplantis, Femke Bol and Noah Lyles were among the superstars on display but sitting very firmly alongside them as part of the world elite were Josh Kerr, Jemma Reekie and Laura Muir. All three put in stunning performances to lay strong markers down on the road to Paris.

‘But for injury and illness, there could have been a whole host of other Scots in Glasgow and we would certainly hope to see them in Paris, and in contention for medals.

Jake Wightman, Eilish McColgan, Neil Gourley and Zoey Clark, to name a few, have been struggling with injuries, but are now hopefully on the road to recovery as the Olympics loom on the horizon.

‘At the top level of athletics, the difference between a podium place and injury can be a very fine line.

Zoey Clark spoke to us about her injury heartache in December in a special video

‘In 2022, for example, Jake Wightman was on top of the world, securing the gold medal over 1500m in Oregon. Yet only a few months later, he suffered a stress fracture and is now building gradually back to fitness.

‘Likewise, who could forget Eilish McColgan’s stunning summer in 2022, and particularly that incredible gold medal in the 10,000m at the Commonwealth Games? Yet her last year has been blighted by injury. Eilish is now patiently working her way back to peak fitness.

‘Zoey Clark went from the highs of celebrating a stunning bronze medal as part of the Women’s 4x400m squad at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, to the lows of a serious back injury from which she is gradually recovering.

‘Neil Gourley won silver at the European Indoors and the World Indoor GP title early in 2023 to secure a spot at the World Indoors in Glasgow only to be unable to take his spot due to injury.

‘The moral of these stories is that to perform at the top level requires a great deal of resilience and patience to deal with the obstacles life can throw at you.

How we covered Josh Kerr’s World Indoors gold in the new edition of PB magazine

‘There are as many troughs as there are peaks and building back up to the peak requires resilience and a strong support system. It also requires a great deal of self-belief.

Fortunately, we have a generation of athletes representing Scotland at the moment who have no shortage of self-belief.

It was pleasing to see many of our young athletes at the World Indoor Championships, cheering on our Scottish and British athletes (as well as a host of international stars) and being inspired by the great performances.

‘Many of them will aspire to be part of the next generation of great Scottish athletes, and there is no reason why that won’t be the case.

‘They have an abundance of amazing role models who have proven that hard work, determination and self-belief are the ingredients required to make it to the top.

‘On their own journey, our young athletes too will learn to deal with adversity and to develop resilience and patience.

Grangemouth stadium

‘In a similar vein, we are in a period where our athletics community in general has to be resilient.

‘Amidst all of the great performances we are seeing from elite to grassroots, there are challenges.

‘Protecting our key facilities is the biggest one and Scottish Athletics is working hard to protect our core facilities such as Grangemouth, while also planning for investment for the future. Not all of this is in our control.

‘However, we will continue to make the case consistently and vociferously so that local authorities and government engage and respond. Yes, funds are tight, but it would be a false economy to allow the fabric of our sporting facilities up and down the country to deteriorate and to close.

‘Whether it was in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Giffnock or Dundee, our current crop of world class athletes were able to access local club facilities at the start of their athletics journey.

‘The pathway to elite starts at the grassroots. We must ensure that the current generation have the same access to good quality facilities that Jake, Jemma and Laura had when they were starting out. Otherwise there is no legacy.’


Tags: David Ovens

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