Running legend Paula Radcliffe has named volunteers as the people who make athletics special.
Clubs the length and breadth of Scotland will understand the sentiment with the fabric of our sport so reliant on volunteer coaches, helpers and officials . . . year in, year out.
The scottishathletics Annual Awards give YOU the opportunity to recognise some of those folk in various categories and Radcliffe believes we can’t be thankful enough for our dedicated stalwarts.
Our Annual Dinner on Saturday 31 October at the Hilton Hotel in Glasgow will be a big night and that’s why we want nominations now for categories like Volunteer of the Year, Official of the Year and Coach of the Year. We need them by September 21, please.
Marathon World Record holder Radcliffe is interviewed in a special feature in the new edition of PB magazine – which is being issued to all scottishathletics members this weekend.
Rising interest in the sport following the 2012 Olympics in London and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow has seen some clubs having to operate waiting lists and many races and events are at full capacity with record entries.
‘I feel really grateful to the volunteers and club officials – and coaches – in athletics,’ Paula told PB.
‘Those people are the real cornerstones of our sport. They are the first port of call, the first point of contact in many instances. When people come and want to try athletics then it is vital that they get the right kind of welcome and encouragement.
‘You want that first experience to be enjoyable and then maybe they come back again and you have a chance of them staying in the sport.
‘So those club folk, the stalwarts of the sport, are really special in the athletics story. I think it is important we thank them and support them and their role is recognised.’
Radcliffe believes London 2012 and Glasgow 2014 has led to an upsurge in interest. Not that she has ever been in any doubt about the value of the sport.
‘The benefits of running are multiple: physical, mental wellbeing, social, self-confidence, kids performing better at school if they are active and involved in sport,’ she added.
‘All of those things are important. I do think there is a bit of a running boom going on.
‘Glasgow 2014 was great in Scotland and we’ve seen sport participation increase since then. People watched that, either at Hampden or on TV, and they had a taste of the atmosphere.
‘Hopefully they were thinking ‘I just want to try that myself ..’