Satisfaction – but no complacency

Wednesday 6th August 2014

Nigel Holl, CEO of Scottish Athletics

Chief executive Nigel Holl offers a few thoughts on the athletics action at Hampden during the XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

And he looks ahead with confidence that some of those involved in Team Scotland can learn from their 2014 experience in time for the next Games in the Gold Coast.

‘With the memories of Glasgow 2014 still fresh, a wee bit of reflection never does anyone any harm.

‘Over the course of the next few weeks we will undertake a detailed review and analysis – a review that will capture the essential lessons and learning from selection policy; the build-up to the Games and the performances themselves – individually and collectively.

‘We will learn lessons, we will look to the future and ensure that the concepts that worked and, those that maybe didn’t work quite so well, are clear and insightful for future scottishathletics teams, coaches and programmes.

‘So, with only a short period of time having elapsed since the last Scottish athlete competed at Hampden Park, how does it feel?

‘Simply – satisfying. The team as a whole (and by that team I mean athletes, coaches, medical staff, administrators) undoubtedly performed.

‘Subject to a more detailed review, I look at the approach we adopted – from selection policy onwards – with some pride. There were some different and innovative approaches, fantastically lead by Stephen Maguire (who had to inherit some of those approaches!), the Kilmarnock/Irvine holding camp – with the great support we received there from the Local Authorities and Menzies Hotels and feel that peaceful retreat ahead of the frantic Games environment was an undoubted success.

‘As to performances – well, perhaps there’s no surprise in that with a large team there will be athletes who stepped up and delighted; athletes who deliver exactly what you would predict and hope for; and others for whom the pressure of the occasion hinders their performances and means they are not at the their best.

‘We saw all of that, and no one should be surprised by that. Athletes are human after all.

‘I am left satisfied but not completely happy by the medal haul. It may well be the best for 20 plus years. Excellent. But it could have been better.

‘The reality, however, is that any medal at this Games was hard won. Not all sports at a Commonwealth Games can truly claim to be ‘world level’. I think in most events, the athletics can claim that in Glasgow. So any athlete medalling – they have had to perform to earn that. No easy ride. No givens.

‘I think that became very clear early in the athletics schedule – Team Scotland were flying as the athletics started with credit to sports such as swimming and judo.

‘But in many ways the fact that the medals were tough to earn at Hampden and on the streets of Glasgow in the marathon) to me is actually a positive. The Commonwealth Games needs the Athletics programme to be strong, and to have the world’s best athletes there.

‘We had that at Glasgow 2014, and our Scots had to therefore compete at that level. We asked them to “perform when it counts” and many did. Not all, and that is a learning curve – many will learn and perform in the future. Some may not. That is the reality and we shouldn’t hide away from that.

‘As another early reflection, I come back to the future. We had a young team (30 under 23 years) experiencing that Hampden Roar, the inspiration, but also the pressure – the expectation – the expectation of following the judo success and satisfying the crowd’s deep desire for Scots to lead the way.

‘The learning I know that the athletes and their coaches will have had, and will still be digesting – that offers something very special for the future.

‘I expect, and I saw nothing to change my opinion on this (in fact the reverse) that the next 10 years of athletics in Scotland will be very very positive.

‘That starts with what is happening at club level – some tremendous work there by our clubs, and it is topped off by Scotland’s elite athletes – many of whom will grace the world stage for years to come.

‘When they do, it will be with a wee bit of what happened at Hampden buried deep within.

‘Looking ahead, there are many other opportunities that now count. That starts in Zurich next week at the European Championships for some, and continues at our own championships  – Senior and Age Groups – in Scotland in August.

‘I look forward to generations of Scottish athletes at all levels ‘performing when it counts’ and having their own ‘moments’ like Lynsey Sharp, Eilidh Child, Libby Clegg, Mark Dry, Guy Learmonth, Beth Potter, Jax Thoirs, Sammi Kinghorn and others . . .


Tags: Eilidh Child, Glasgow 2014, Holl, Libby Clegg, Lynsey Sharp, Mark Dry, Nigel Holl

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