‘You are one big family – and that is driving top performances’ – Katharine Merry

Monday 31st October 2022

Award winners in clubs, coaches, volunteer and Official categories

Katharine Merry believes a collective #SALtogether approach can keep driving momentum in Scottish athletics.

The English Olympian was one of our Guests of Honour at a memorable 4J Annual Awards Dinner in Glasgow on Saturday night.

And Merry has insisted that the whole sport pulling together in Scotland really does make a significant contribution to overall success.

‘I remember five years ago I was speaking to someone involved in Scottish athletics and said: ‘You guys are starting to create something special’, explained Kath.

‘So in many ways it has come as no surprise.

‘I think there is an understanding and a respect in the athletics community in Scotland that they give to the sport.

‘The level of understanding and respect given to coaches, Officials and athletes as a collective family has been raised to another level. That’s down to the people in charge.

‘Everybody who plays a part feels worthy. Everybody who plays a part is acknowledged. We saw that on Saturday night but in fact it happens on a weekly basis.

‘The roles people play are being acknowledged and the push comes from grassroots up the way. I can see why it works.’

Photo by Bobby Gavin

Jake Wightman and Sean Frame won the top Athlete of the Year award with Geoff Wightman named Performance coach of the Year and Rodger Harkins was our first winner of the Para Performance Coach of the Year award.

Merry was thrilled to see Jake win but is also hugely impressed with fellow nominees Laura Muir and Eilish McColgan.

‘Jake is on another level now,’ said Katharine.

‘Yes, he won a World title with a tactical masterclass but he backed up in other major events – European championships, Commonwealth. His consistency is at such a top level.

‘His level of confidence is amazing too. He is now at the top of his game. You can’t discount him on the world scene from 800m, though 1500, to the mile.’

On Muir, she said: ‘Laura has consistency and resilience to back up her talent.

‘All three on the shortlist have been like machines. Laura was knackered at the Commonwealth Games and then Euros, literally on her back, but she still competes with outstanding success. Laura has been consistent for so long. She has been the backbone of Scottish athletics for me.’

On McColgan, she said:  ‘Oh my goodness. The Alexander Stadium is my home track here in Birmingham. I have witnessed many, many brilliant things over the years. I have banked memories. I have run there very fast myself.

‘But what Eilish did in that Commonwealth 10,000m final was incredible.

‘There was no chance Eilish was not going to win. She would not allow that. People sensed that. Flower of Scotland was sung by everybody at the medal presentation. Wow.

‘People enjoyed that moment but they are now appreciating what she is doing and how she is doing it. And on the road too. What a story…to repeat at the Commonwealth Games what her mother did first in 1986. History has been passed down.’


Tags: Eilish McColgan, Geoff Wightman, Jake Wightman, Katharine Merry, Laura Muir, Sean Frame

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