Eilish: Lynsey Sharp fired up my own Olympic flame

Wednesday 31st January 2024

No Eilish in action at Tokyo at the 202 Olympics (held in 2020) (photo by David Preece for Team GB and NI)

Lynsey announces retirement after superb career

Eilish McColgan is setting her sights on competing at a fourth Olympics in Paris this summer.

Twelve years on from her London 2022 debut in the steeplechase, the 2022 Commonwealth Games champion believes the 10,000m will again be her best route to selection and success.

And, should she achieve a fourth Olympics in GB and NI colours, Eilish will likely offer a quiet thank you to ‘path-finder’ Lynsey Sharp.

‘I’m trying to make my fourth Olympic Games with the British team,’ said Eilish, who was speaking at the World School Games event in Dubai.

‘I made my debut in London back in 2012 and then competed in Rio four years later and also in the Covid-delayed Tokyo Games (in the summer of 2021).

‘I’d love to make my fourth because when I was a youngster I didn’t grow up dreaming of being at an Olympics. I just never imagined being good enough if I am honest.’

European and Commonwealth medallist Sharp, of course, called time on her career shortly before Christmas with mum-of-one Lynsey feeling the time was right to hang up the spikes at   .

‘Lynsey and I go back a long way and she’s had a great career,’ said Eilish.

‘In many ways, she was a ‘path-finder’ for top Scottish athletes.

‘We first raced together at a Scottish Primary Schools cross country meeting. It’s long time ago, yes. The journalists there put a focus on myself and Lysey and they took this picture and it’s horrendous.

‘Lynsey has this tiny little like bob haircut and I just look petrified. I still have that picture but that was the first time I came across Lynsey and she just battered everybody in that race.

‘I don’t even know where I finished but she was off – she won it by a long way and I just remember thinking ’WOW’.

‘She was a great young athlete and then obviously indoors she set a lot of national records for her age group.

‘Lynsey was just someone that always seemed to be at the top of her game and I suppose that was hugely inspiring for me.’

Eilish in Rio in 2016 (photo by Mark Shearman)

Lynsey won gold in the European Champs in Helsinki in 2012 (with the medal awarded a couple of years later after a doping violation by the race winner on the night) – just as Eilish was on the very of making the Olympic team.

‘Looking back to around that time then Lynsey was one of the first Scottish athletes who sort of broke into the GB team and to be honest I’d never really thought about ever making an Olympic Games and stuff.

‘I never quite thought I was ever that level of athlete or that good enough to make an Olympics.

‘I thought if I could make a Scotland team at the Commonwealths or something that would be a huge achievement itself. The Olympics and Europeans and stuff just felt way outside my capabilities.

‘So when Lynsey broke into the GB and NI team I still thought I was more likely to be making a Scotland team of Commonwealths

‘She was going to Europeans and we were similar age and stage. And I just thought ‘If she can do that . . .

‘It gave me inspiration and motivation and it helped me make the British team for London 2012.’

Lynsey won 800m silver medal at the European Champs in Zurich in 2014 (photo via European Athletics)

Tags: Eilish McColgan, Lynsey Sharp, Olympics, Olympics 2024

Expand Social Feeds