‘Megan’s back story runs to 11 years . . . with strong Scottish pathway’

Wednesday 2nd August 2023

Eight Scots picked for World Champs in Budapest

Ross Cairns has been one of the key constants in Megan Keith’s steady-yet-stunning rise to the top.

The mileage put in by both coach and athlete, metaphorically and physically, has been significant over a decade or so and their story is the very opposite of overnight success.

From a remote base in the Highlands, the Inverness Harriers athlete has made a huge impact on European events in cross country in track and in 2023 that has developed to a World Cross appearance in Australia and now a forthcoming trip to the World Champs in Budapest.

We’ve reported in the past on Megan’s roots in the North District XC League that helped her towards Euro Cross U20 gold in Dublin in 2021 and Euro Cross U23 silver in Turin in 2022.

Now, though, Ross has highlighted the wider Scottish development system as the right pathway from grassroots to elite for those who can combine talent with application and dedication . . .

‘Megan can be a role model or an inspiration to any athlete in Scotland,’ he told us, with Megan one of eight Scots selected for the World Champs.

‘It doesn’t matter if you come from the north of Scotland – or anywhere else – it is about how hard you have worked and how good you are.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVOQxfL1oxU

‘Scotland is small . . . in a UK sense we’re the size of an English county. But if we pull together, standards rise.

‘The main thing for all of us that we all kind of know each other. Coaches know each other, athletes race each other regularly across Scotland and across different disciplines (in endurance).

The athletes know each other at 15, 16, 17 or through the education system. If we all pull for each other, that helps. That kind of ethos has helped Megan and countless others to progress.

‘There was London 2012 and Glasgow 2014 and that influenced a generation of athletes at a young age, too.

‘Realising your ‘heroes’ come from not too different a background to you makes a huge difference. It makes you think things are achievable.

‘Megan has seen athletes come through at Scottish clubs and then move further up to become very prominent on the global stage.

‘It has been absolutely amazing to see Megan develop and then give the performance in London which brought her the qualifying standard for the World Champs.

‘She’s 21 years of age and yet here she is selected for Budapest to follow on from the World Cross Country in Australia back in March.

‘It is the stuff of memories for her and her family, myself as a coach and the training group.

‘Megan is a great example of very steady development. It was her second year as an U17 athlete before she really started to make podiums in a Scottish sense and then it has built and progressed from there.

‘She just ‘gets’ the need for patience when you want to develop. You want to go and run all the time, compete with friends and rivals, but she is a brilliant example of having a bit of a long-term plan.

‘Magan has a background in orienteering and she did rowing as well when much younger. She comes from a running family – her dad was a very accomplished hill runner.

‘There are nine to 11 years there in the background to work towards this summer’s track achievements.

‘She loves to race and enjoyment remains really important. Racing those of a similar ability stirs her competitive instincts and we’ve seen that at the Euro Cross when she won in Dublin (U20) and took silver in Turin (U23).’

Megan wins the Euro Cross U20 title in Dublin in December 2021 (photo by European Athletics) and wins our Scottish Inter-District Champs in Perth earlier this year (photo by Bobby Gavin)

Tags: Inverness Harriers, Megan Keith, Ross Cairns

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