Eilidh Doyle and Chris O’Hare have been two of the biggest names in our sport for a decade and more.
The 400m hurdler and the 1500m runner shared similar early careers and then won medals and drew headlines from 2010 through to 2021.
Now, however, both are former athletes with Eilidh, our most decorated track and field athlete, having announced her retirement in June 2021.
Chris, who won three European Championship medals and set Scottish Records, followed suit last month.
Our Digital Media Officer, Sue Gyford, invited Eilidh and Chris to join her for a special feature-length programme for our burgeoning YouTube Channel (SAL TV).
It’s a fascinating watch (or works just as well as a listen) as the pair chat about their start in athletics, early championships, medal success at the 2014 European Champs in Zurich and again at Glasgow 2019 – when the European Indoors effectively proved their farewell.
Chris and Eilidh also spoke to Sue about what we often call the #SALtogether factor and being part of a bigger picture as athletics in Scotland has recovered momentum over the past decade or so.
Pushing the boundaries on National Records, of course, is a big factor in that and even since we spoke to Chris last week, his Edinburgh AC team-mate Josh Kerr has taken down his Indoor Mile Record.
Eilidh for her part is close to Laura Muir with their Kinross connection and a friendship which began as room-mates very early in Laura’s own international career.
‘At first you don’t feel part of something bigger but I would say over the latter years then, yes, I did feel part of something bigger (athletics in Scotland as a collective),’ said Chris.
‘It is great to be part of that. It also makes it a little easier to finish when you know you have made something of an impact in a wider sense than just your own personal gain or experience.
‘Scottish athletics has moved forward during my time and that feels good. In a closer sense, to me, there’s Jake Wightman and Josh Kerr quite specifically who have pushed times on and brought down Records. Guys from Edinburgh AC, where I came through myself.
‘I’ve spoken to them about it and they told me ‘we saw you do things others had not done’ and I’ve said to them ‘now you take it on to another level’.
‘Hopefully there are people watching Josh win an Olympic medal and saying ‘I want to do that kind of thing and be as fast as him’. That, in essence, is how the sport grows. I hope there’s a generation that comes along and clips at his heels, just the way they did mine.
‘It’s special to be part of something bigger than just you.’
Eilidh agreed with Chris that playing a major role in the vanguard of a generation is hugely satisfying, now she has time to reflect upon his career.
‘It can be hard to appreciate it when you are in it,’ said Eilidh, now on the Board of scottishathletics. Terry O’Hare, dad to Chris, is also on our Board.
‘At that stage, it is for yourself and you are thinking about competing, times, what the coach might say and so on.
‘You target championships and you don’t honestly notice too much outside of your wee world.
‘But I do find it nice now to sit and reflect and see the generation I was part of making an impact.
‘I look back at championships early in my career and look to see who developed, who is still competing and so on.
‘I shared a room at Glasgow 2014 with Laura Muir. And she has a really upsetting time then. So I feel as though I’ve been invested in her journey a bit and to see her win an Olympic medal last year felt very special indeed.’
Sue asked Chris why he’s taken the decision now to hang up his spikes in a professional sense.
‘Towards the end of my career, it become more apparent the things I was missing out on, if you like,’ he said.
‘I wasn’t able to go skiing with the family. Or off mountain biking. Things you avoid for fear of injury.
‘When I retired, it certainly felt like now that I didn’t have to run, or commit anything like as much time to running, I could do other things.
‘I didn’t have any real emotional struggle with the idea of retiring – although of course when you post the message suddenly there are lovely messages from people who have followed your career and many of them I don’t even know them.
‘I’m thankful and it has been special to receive those wishes.’
Track & Field