‘Neil is the guy we all look up to and aspire to be’ – Craig Shennan

Wednesday 27th March 2024

Craig Shennan celebrates gold in the U17 Men’s race at the Lindsays National XC at Falkirk last month (photo by Bobby Gavin)

Belgrade-bound: Four Scots are picked for World Cross

Craig Shennan has thanked Neil Gourley for helping him land his first GB and NI vest and shape his career path.

The Giffnock North AC youngster will race in the Junior men’s event at the World Cross in Serbia this weekend.

And it is abundantly clear Giffnock local hero Neil is inspiring those following him in yellow and blue vests.

Craig spoke to the 2023 European Indoor silver medallist recently and also received advice about a summer education switch to the United States (where Gourley himself is now based).

‘Neil is the guy that we all look up to,’ said the Giffnock 17-year-old.

‘You know that looking at World level when you see like the Kenyans and the Ethiopians and you ask yourself  ‘Can I really be like that?’

‘Then you see Neil being up at the top level you know what is possible. He went to the same high school as me (Williamwood) and came through the club.

‘So immediately you know if someone like him can be up there competing and running, what, 3:30 for 1500m, then it can be done.

It really puts into perspective what is possible and that you could be a professional athlete if you put your head down and get the work in.’

Neil missed the World Indoors through injury unfortunately but a trip back to Glasgow allowed him to visit all ages at Giffnock North (as he so often does when home in Scotland).

‘I was there when he dropped in on the club when home around the time of the World Indoors,’ said Criag.

‘I was doing an easy run that night so he was there and I was chatting to him about the Inter-Counties and World Cross trials.

‘We also spoke about his training and what not and how he’s getting back into fitness ready for the summer.

‘When I was sorting stuff for uni in America, Neil was a big help. He told me the kind of things to look for on my visits and that proved useful  Neil is so very helpful to everyone at Giffnock.

‘And those in the club have been brilliant to me, too.’

Neil on a recent trip back to his club, Giffnock North AC (photo via Twitter)

Coached by Dudley Walker, Craig ran up an age group at the Inter-Counties in Nottingham and fourth place that day helped in the selection discussion.

‘I am very excited to represent GB for the first time I’ve been really something I’ve wanted to do for a while,’ he said.

‘To be going to the World Cross is really cool.

‘Running up an age group was quite tough because these guys I’ve not really raced before. I didn’t know how I would fare. I’ve just been running U17s so it was quite tough and the guys were fast.

‘It’s tougher competition but I think it really got the best out of me and I was able to just see what I could do.

‘I’ve probably been in athletics since since about under 11 so you’re talking about six of seven. I’ve come through the Giffnock North age group pathway.

‘I feel I am lucky to have been at such a good club at like since I’ve been a wee lad. It’s my local club and it is a strong club for cross country.’

Neil Gourley on the Men’s 1500m podium at the European Indoors in Istanbul in 2023 (photo Getty Images for British Athletics)


Tags: Craig Shennan, Giffnock North, Giffnock North AC, Neil Gourley, World Cross

Expand Social Feeds