I hope Eilidh Doyle is taking the time to soak up all the lovely messages she’s getting on social media and the articles written in the newspapers now that she has announced her retirement from competitive athletics.
I can’t remember the exact time I first became aware of Eilidh (Child as she was then) but I’m pretty sure it must have been at an awards ceremony or something like that when we were both really young!
Eilidh is a couple of years older than me but our careers have progressed roughly at the same time – from promising juniors getting a bit of attention as one to watch to the top of our chosen sport.
The fact that we both have Kinross-shire connections was an extra reason for following her career.
The most important bit of Eilidh’s statement was her realisation that this is the right time to call it a day.
I have some news to share with you all ❤️ pic.twitter.com/hjp6TVhhNJ
— Eilidh Doyle (@EilidhDoyle) June 2, 2021
That will mean she can watch the Olympics later in this year, and then the Commonwealth Games, with no regrets.
There are better qualified people than me to talk about just how good Eilidh was as a 400 metres hurdler and relay runner but it’s a sport where the times speak for themselves and so do the medals.
It feels to me as if she has squeezed every last drop out of her career which is a great place to be.
She’ll be remembered as one of Scottish Athletics’ greats.
And don’t underestimate how important her off the track role was in the build-up to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
Eilidh was the perfect ‘poster girl’ for Team Scotland and seemed to enjoy everything that went with that, while still doing the business for herself and winning yet another medal.
I’ll be watching the next stage of her career with interest but after putting her heart and soul into teaching and now running, I’m sure she’ll make a success of whatever it’s going to be.
The Naomi Osaka issue is a real shades of grey one rather than black and white.
As an athlete who participates in a minority sport (and a newspaper columnist!) I know how important the media is.
It’s not as simple as saying that we are professional sports men and sports women and that’s all we should be obliged to focus on.
There’s a duty to promote our sport and, at times, that means gritting your teeth and answering some tough questions when you’re not in the mood to face journalists after a painful defeat.
The fact that Osaka has withdrawn from a Grand Slam event tells you just how deep-rooted her anxiety is.
Fines might not mean anything to her but competing at the big events definitely will.
Mental health in professional sport has quite rightly become a much bigger issue than it used to be and the tennis authorities have a real duty to send out the correct messages from here on.
For me, that means working with Osaka rather than against her.
Nothing has to stay the same forever and if it means post-match media conferences adapt a bit and they meet somewhere in the middle, that seems pretty sensible.