‘They would be off their heads to close track at Grangemouth’ – Eilish McColgan

Wednesday 8th May 2024

Flashback . . . Scottish Student Champs in 2012 and Eilish McColgan and Laura Muir meet on the Grangemouth track (photo by Bobby Gavin)

By Peter Jardine, Head of Communications

There’s nothing refined about the ageing track and field facility at Grangemouth stadium.

But it can be a venue where athletes are defined.

And, as the spiritual home of track and field athletics in Scotland, it has effectively elbowed Meadowbank aside as the national stadium – certainly this century.

No wonder no lesser a figure than Commonwealth champion and multiple British Record holder Eilish McColgan argues vehemently that Grangemouth must be saved as a crucial staging post where careers are forged.

Memories of early year competition still burn as brightly for Eilish as the nearby Grangemouth refinery plume which, with imagination, becomes an Olympic flame for wannabes at every age and stage . . .

‘It is really important that the facility is saved,’ insisted Eilish.

‘We don’t have too many track and field venues in Scotland so every single one is important and particularly Grangemouth.

‘It is just where young athletes get to compete in the sport we love and get to develop. I’ve raced there so many times as a kid and in my teens and have a lot of memoiries.

‘To put it simply: it’s a fundamental venue for track and field in Scotland. The Scottish Schools is there, the Age Group Champs are there and there competitions and championship events are the starting point for many careers.’

‘I do not know what can be done financially. Could it be a multi sport venue, somehow? I do not know.

‘But there has to be an avenue other than closure.’

Research by consultants acting for scottishathletics confirm Grangemouth’s central Scotland location adds to the strategic importance. No fewer than 2.9 million people live within an hour’s drive of the facility. That’s a lot of clubs ‘connected’.

‘It would be a lost opportunity for youngsters within that area and further afield,’ added Eilish.

‘And as I said, across the whole of Scotland, to lose another facility, another track, would be very damaging.  I mean, it almost happened with Meadowbank, but thankfully they’ve managed to revamp that and we have a new facility there.

‘So it’s really just, I know, securing it for the next generation of youngsters coming through. They have somewhere that they can feel safe to try athletics, to compete, to race.

‘It is about all of those key memories that you have as a youngster are competing across stadiums, across this country.

‘So, yes, I think for that local area around Gangemouth and local clubs it is a really important place to try and retain and retain as many of them as we possibly can. But we also know people travel there to compete in champs and we’d lose that, too.’

Eilish is a persistent flag-bearer for the benefits of athletics both in a club member sense and also in the more relaxed sense of keep fit or jogging (via a local jogscotland group or whatever).

‘I mean we know the benefits of keeping fit and active, we know the benefits not only just for general fitness in later life but even mental health, we even know now the benefits have gone out and getting fresh air running outside, getting away from TV, computer games,’ she added.

‘So you need the framework to deliver that via sports facilities. We all have to do our best to keep these stadiums as much as we can.’

Her own memories are wrapped together in league matches, School Champs, the Scottish Age Groups and then the Scottish Unis.

‘I actually have a picture from the archives of Laura Muir and me actually competing at the Scottish universities,’ recalled Eilish.

‘I’m competing for Dundee Uni. So a little bit older than Schools or Age Groups, but that’s how important these stadiums are, I mean from the age of probably about 13 years old, right the way through to even university championships, we were competing there.

‘Laura looks very different to what she does now. I probably don’t look that different, I think I’m still very tall and stand out, big blonde hair on me, bleached blonde hair back then, I’d say white, bordering on white hair.

‘I mean, at the time, we had no idea who each other were. Laura was certainly not the athlete she is today and I was definitely not the athlete I am today either.

‘So it’s fun to look back at that and go, WOW, I competed against Laura Muir early on. So there’s memories of that you look back and that’s what happens at Grangemouth.’


Tags: Eilish McColgan, Grangemouth, Laura Muir

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