Other Sports

African training for Scottish Olympians

By Eric Nicolson, 4 January 2013 11.41am.

LOCAL OLYMPIANS Eilish McColgan and Eilidh Child are among a select group of elite athletes who are heading to Africa for warm weather training this month.

Delhi Commonwealth Games silver medallist Child, who reached the semi-finals of the 400m hurdles at London, is bound for South Africa with top coach Malcolm Arnold.

UK 3,000m steeplechase champion McColgan headed for Kenya with UK Athletics on Thursday, as she takes a break from university for three weeks of altitude training.

Terrence Mahon, the American appointed by UK Athletics to help their endurance runners, will lead the training camp, which also includes another Scot, UK champion and European 800m silver medallist Lynsey Sharp.

Meanwhile, facility managers have been urged to help Scottish athletes achieve their potential as Glasgow 2014 starts to loom into focus.

The £113m Emirates Arena in Glasgow staged two athletics events over the festive period and hosts national championships for scottishathletics over the next three months — starting with the McCain National Indoor Open on January 19.

A week later stars like Lee McConnell, Robbie Grabarz, Kim Collins and Holly Bleasdale will be at the Glasgow venue for the British International Match which seems certain to be a 5,000 sell-out.

But Nigel Holl, chief executive of the sport’s governing body in Scotland, is seeking more cooperation with councils and sports trusts to make sure tracks and leisure 
centres accommodate training.

“I have a very positive outlook on the future for athletics in Scotland but there are some hot issues... and facilities sit towards the top of that list at the moment,” said scottishathletics chief executive Holl.

“Whether it is tracks being closed due to ice, rugby take-overs, tennis courts covering indoor tracks, or the Kelvin Hall closing... facilities are never far away from our thoughts.

“Every case and situation is different, and we can’t detail each and every discussion that takes place that involves scottishathletics. Suffice to say that I, personally, and members of my team spend considerable time and effort working with facility owners and managers (local authorities and their off-shoot trusts that now run many facilities), seeking solutions that work for athletics, for our clubs and for our athletes.

“Those discussions are not easy. We now seem to live in a world where no facility is really sacrosanct and dedicated to only one sport, so we have to accept and deal with compromise.

“Suffice to say those discussions continue — they have happened already with regards to the Emirates Arena in Glasgow ahead of the indoor season starting properly in January. And they have to continue.

“I will say that we make greater progress by working with our facility partners — and engaging positively to find solutions, rather than ending up in a stand-off situation.

“I would urge everyone to work closely with facility operators — recognise their challenges as well as seeking the best compromise for athletics — we can find solutions that will work.”

enicolson@thecourier.co.uk