Learning curve: ATS Young People’s Forum Conference inspires us all

Sunday 12th March 2023

Young People’s Forum members with Eilidh Doyle at the Conference (photo by Bobby Gavin)

Photos on Facebook from Bobby Gavin

Delegates, presenters and guests left our first-ever Athletics Trust Scotland Young People’s Forum Conference enthused about the future of our sport.

A series of inspirational presentations, led by double Olympian and multiple medallist Eilidh Doyle, were augmented by breakout sessions as youngsters aged 12-23 gathered at the Emirates Arena.

It was our first staging of a conference by the Young People’s Forum with support from various partners, including Roon the Toon.

One of the big takeaways was that there is a role for everyone within our sport – as a volunteer or indeed a more permanent position – and our Q and A panel in the afternoon highlighted routes into Officiating and Coaching.

YPF members are already moving into those roles and in video interviews below we hear from Erin Quinn of VP-Glasgow, who has taken Officials courses, and Natalie Sharp who moved into coaching at 14 and now has a key position in the coaching structure at Kilmarnock Harriers.

Diane Ramsay, another member of the panel for the Q and A in the afternoon, spoke about her journey from Team Scotland athlete at Glasgow 2014 to becoming a Technical Official and now helping in the ‘team effort’ which delivers events.

As as well Diane and Natalie, that panel also featured superb insight and candid opinions from Paul Forbes, Derek Rae and Annabel Simpson.

Here’s a short sound-bite from each of those panellists . . .

Paul Forbes: ‘I was a tearaway as a kid. Thankfully someone got hold of me and was able to channel all that extra energy into running and athletics. I started in 1969 and it has given me a life – and I’ve met a lot nice people along the way.’

Derek Rae: ‘I am a great one for my quotes. One I really like is: ‘Not every day is a good day, but there is good in every day’. Keep trusting the process and working hard and see where that takes you. And remember to enjoy it.’

Annabel Simpson: ‘Make sure you are eating enough to fuel your training. When I was at Uni, sitting in the canteen and eating a lot after sessions, I felt everyone was looking at me and commenting on it. But you have to do what is right for you and your health.’


Eilidh Doyle spoke about the importance of life balance for athletes of all ages.

‘Athletics has been a huge part of my life and very important to me,’ she said.

‘But it also helped shape me as a person – dealing with the highs and lows.

‘I worked with a sports psychologist after the 2022 Olympics. The atmosphere at London and representing GB and NI at that level had blown my mind. I wasn’t sure I wanted that kind of pressure.

‘The psychologist helped me realise life balance was so important. There are always ups and downs when you compete. It is about dealing with those and making sure you enjoy it.’

In the Q and A session Eilidh was asked if she had any regrets around retiring.

‘The time was right for me and I look back now and I am very satisfied with what I achieved,’ she said.

‘Once the doubts start to emerge about competing at an Olympics (as 2020 was then postponed to 2021) then I kind of knew I should be finished. Physically after becoming a mum I might still have been able to get back but mentally I was done.

‘So the decision was made and when the first session of the Olympics started I was sitting watching it on television – and I really didn’t feel as if I was missing out or should be in Japan.’

Eilidh was also asked about her role on the Board of scottishathletics.

‘I was still a competing athlete in 2018 when I joined the Board,’ she said.

‘I felt it was important for them to hear the views of an athlete. But, equally, I thought it would be good for me to hear more about what on behind the scenes and how the sport is structured. So it was a two-way street, really.

‘Then, after I retired, I felt it was good that I was still on the Board and still involved that way rather than have cut even more ties with the sport. I’m still connected to it and I like that.’



Tags: ATS Young People's Forum, Eilidh Doyle

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