Scotland will have a quite remarkable 17 athletes on the plane to Berlin as part of the British Athletics team for the European Championships.
It’s a record representation for Scottish athletes and coaches at these championships and effectively marks another high watermark for the sport in this country at international level. The Europeans first began back in 1934.
Two years ago 15 athletes were selected for Rio for the Olympics in the biggest representation for 108 years and that was followed by 16 athletes competing last summer at the London 2017 World Champs.
Now with new faces like Jemma Reekie and Beth Dobbin involved, the cohort has grown still further with four athletes selected for 1500m in Chris O’Hare, Jake Wightman, Laura Muir and Reekie; three high jumpers involved in David Smith, Allan Smith and Nikki Manson; two throwers in Chris Bennett and Kirsty Law; and two 400m hurdlers in Eilidh Doyle and Kirsten McAslan; and Steph Twell and Eilish McColgan in the 5000m.
Laura Muir will race the 1500m with Lynsey Sharp also selected for the 800m, and Guy Learmonth in the men’s 800m. Zoey Clark is named for the 4 x 400m Relay squad – with Doyle and McAslan selected there, too.
Many congratulations to all the athletes selected and their families and coaches. It is also a special moment for clubs across the length and breadth of Scotland who have been involved in the key development work for these athletes over many years.
Here are the Scots selected (in alphabetical order with coach and Scottish club where appropriate)
Chris Bennett (Mick Jones, Shettleston) Hammer
Zoey Clark (Eddie McKenna, Aberdeen AAC) 4 x 400m Relay
Beth Dobbin (Leon Baptiste, Edinburgh AC) 200m
Eilidh Doyle (Brian Doyle, Pitreavie AAC) 400m H and 4 x 400m Relay
Kirsty Law (Zane Duqueim, Inverness Harriers) Discus
Guy Learmonth (Henry Gray, Lasswade AAC) 800m
Nikki Manson – (Giffnock North) High Jump
Kirsten McAslan (Mike Baker, Sale Harriers) 400m Hurdles and 4 x 400m Relay
Eilish McColgan (Liz McColgan, Dundee Hawkhill) 5000m
Laura Muir (Andy Young, Dundee Hawkhill) 1500m
Chris O’Hare (Terrence Mahon, Edinburgh AC) 1500m
Jemma Reekie (Andy Young, Kilbarchan AAC) 1500m
Lynsey Sharp (Terrence Mahon, Edinburgh AC) 800m
Allan Smith (Bryan Roy, Falkirk Vics) High Jump
David Smith (Paul Harrison, Giffnock North AC) High Jump
Steph Twell (Geoff Wightman) 5000m
Jake Wightman (Geoff Wightman, Edinburgh AC) 1500m
Steph Twell and Laura Muir – British champions are headed for Berlin
The total team size selected by British Athletics, after lengthy discussions on Monday, is 102.
It means the Scottish representation is just shy of 17 percent – effectively double the accepted population ration – so the phrase ‘punching above our weight’ comes very much to mind.
Just six years ago, when the European Championships were in Helsinki, five Scots were selected and only four competed with Twell a late withdrawal. Sharp won the European 800m title in that event after the race winner was later penalised for a drugs offence.
‘It has been quite a year already for athletics in Scotland on a talent and performance front and the European Championship team representation is another massive compliment to our athletes and coaches,’ said Mark Munro, chief executive of scottishathletics.
‘We’ve already witnessed one of our best-ever World Indoor Championships and the best Commonwealth Games medal tally since 1990.
‘This is developing into one of our most successful summers in track and field in terms of depth of performance and our coaches and clubs deserve immense credit for their efforts along with the athletes.’
British Athletics Performance Director, Neil Black said: ‘I am delighted to confirm the 102 athletes chosen to compete for Great Britain & Northern Ireland at the European Championships in Berlin next month.
‘The standard of performances from British athletes since the Commonwealth Games in April has been extremely high and therefore competition for places to Berlin has been more competitive than ever. This is a huge opportunity for athletes to demonstrate form ahead of two global championship summers.
‘It is fantastic that for the first time ever more women than men have been selected and this underlines further that athletics is a truly equal sport while I would like to congratulate both Anyika Onuora and Eilidh Doyle on what will be their fifth appearance for the British team at the European Championships.
‘The team is our largest for over 100 years and we look forward to watching them thrive under the spotlight of a major championships. These European Championships are an important marker on the road to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and we expect to be competing for medals at every turn.’
Beth Dobbin – stunning form in the 2018 season will see her represent GB at the European Championships