Photo by Bobby Gavin
Eilish McColgan delivered the biggest performance of her career on the Birmingham 2022 stage to strike gold.
The Scottish Record holder claimed the Commonwealth title in a thrilling 10,000m final that was undecided until the home straight.
McColgan drew deeply on her reserves of determination to force her way beyond tenacious Kenyan, Irine Cheptai, and surge to the line for glory in a new Games Record of 30:48.60.
That in itself is a strong storyline given Eilish’s mum, Liz, won this title twice; first back in 1986 at Meadowbank and then four years later in New Zealand.
Eilish, 31, was more than entitled to milk the moment as she indulged in an Alexander Stadium lap of honour and picked out family and friends, draped in the Saltire.
The performance was all the more remarkable after Eilish suffered a hamstring issue immediately before the World Champs yet still raced three times in Oregon in the 10,000m and 5000m.
In Birmingham, Sarah Inglis made her Team Scotland debut at a Commonwealth Games and finished ninth in the race in 32:04.74
Many congratulations to mum and coach Liz, all Eilish’s family, partner Michael Rimmer and all involved in her development a number of years ago at Dundee Hawkhill Harriers.
The race itself was a slow-burner but ultimately the winner had to display her strength, fitness, tactical awareness to cover moves and then, finally, sheer guts to win gold.
‘I think it was the crowd that pulled me through over those last 200m or so,’ said Eilish, with the leading pair having dropped the bronze medallist, Kenyan Sheila Kiprotich in the final kilometre or so.
‘The atmosphere was incredible, the noise deafening. It was vibrating right through my whole body and it gave me the drive to push ahead to try and win the gold rather than the silver.
‘I feel as if I may never top this moment. My dad (Peter) stressed to me beforehand that this was a real medal opportunity. He, my mum and Michael were all saying the same thing to me ‘you have to take this chance‘.
‘I knew I was strong enough and fit enough. I just had to be brave enough to cover the moves. I’d a wobble about halfway when I wondered if they were just leaving me out there at the front.
‘But when they made a surge I stayed with it and then, over those last 100m or so, I am convinced it was the crowd that pulled me home. I’ve waited a long time for a night like this.’
*Eilish’s 30:48.60 smashed the previous Commonwealth Games Women’s 10,000m Record of 31:27.83, set by Salina Kosgei all the way back in 2002.
Photos by Bobby Gavin