More opportunities would help athletes – Nigel

Friday 11th September 2015

Nigel Holl, CEO of Scottish Athletics

Nigel Holl has urged Lord Coe to explore more international opportunities for Scotland in his role as head of the IAAF.

The governing body for the sport north of the border also want to see greater weight given to the Commonwealth Games on the global calendar with the event every four years currently up against the European Championships in the same summer track and field season.

Our  chief executive has written an ‘open letter’ to Lord Coe in the new edition of PB magazine , which is being issued to scottishathletics members this weekend, and addresses four significant issues including the current debate on drug cheats.

Holl is keen to see greater dialogue with the IAAF and wants to give Scotland a stronger voice on the international stage if at all possible.

In that regard, the appointment of Louise Martin as the new President of the Commonwealth Games Federation may represent another opportunity for Scottish sports.

Holl’s comments to Coe come in a week that has seen Team Scotland impress at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa – with all six track and field athletes selected for the long trip each collecting medals with the total haul being three silver and four bronze by sprinters Alisha Rees and Cameron Tindle, 800m runners Ben Greenwood and Carys McAulay, long jumper Rachel Alexander and thrower George Evans.

Seven medals for Six in Samoa

‘Now the Referendum is behind us, our role as a key part of Team GB remains clear and a priority for us, our athletes and scottishathletics as an organisation,’ Holl writes to Coe.

‘That said, we hunger for more opportunities for athletes to pull on a Scotland vest – at the right stage of their development – to enable them to experience International athletics on their way to the British levels in the future.

‘Such opportunities have been reduced in recent years. Now we would urge for dialogue to begin about ways in which meaningful but appropriate competition could be identified that supports the wider structure, but recognises  – in these islands – the unique  ‘federal’ opportunity that we could present.

‘That’s not to threaten the GB remit. Quite the reverse: it is to  support it by enabling a slightly broader base of emerging athletes to experience international competition at the right level and learn from that, benefit from that and kick-on to then compete for GB at a higher level.

‘It is not so long ago that Scotland used to compete at the World Cross Country Champs and many people from that era reflect positively and what impact that had on cross country running at GB level.

‘I think working together we can find some positive solutions which would threaten nobody and just add to the strength of the sport. And a lot of that is consistent with what Seb is saying about marketing the sport.’

While the success of those 16 and 17-year-olds at the Commonwealth Youth Games bodes well for the longer-term future, preparations are already well underway for the selection process for Gold Coast 2018.

But with the event that year in April and the European Championships later that year, there are concerns top Scots like Lynsey Sharp, Eilidh Child and Laura Muir may be asked to have a double focus and peak at different times of the season.


Autumn cover of PB magazine

In his letter to Coe, Holl added: ‘The Commonwealth Games has a special place in the heart of Scotland – a place that was strengthened in Glasgow in 2014.

‘I know you experienced that and we urge you to recognise the role that the Commonwealth Games has for athletics – and ensure that the dialogue, partnership and engagement with the Commonwealth Games Federation is strong.

‘We would like those conversations to help enable the Commonwealth Games to have a greater priority within the calendar and that member nations see them as central part of their athlete development programmes.

‘We currently see continental (European) championships taking place in the same year as the Commonwealth Games – a diary challenge that hinders athletes, federations, marketing, promotion.

‘We urge a review of the Four-Year Cycle leading into the Olympic and Paralympic Games – brave discussion topics maybe, but in the long term interest of the sport.’

On the drugs issue, Holl echoed Coe’s public desire to clean up the sport and said: ‘All at scottishathletics stand fully behind you in those endeavours. They will not be easy and tough conversations will be needed, no doubt.

‘We are committed to clean athletics and we look forward to playing our role alongside the IAAF, WADA, UK Athletics and UK Antidoping to ensure this is the case.’


Tags: Commonwealth Youth Games, Laura Muir, Nigel Holl, Scotland, Seb Coe

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