What a season it has been for Great Britain ‘s Eilish McColgan.
Not only did she set numerous personal bests in many distance events, but she also got to experience something that not many athletes will never forget…competing in a home Olympic Games.
It ‘s not been all plain sailing however; last season she suffered a broken ankle, which ruled her out of the World Championships last year.
She then suffered a slight scare after she missed all of the winter season with another injury, but bounced back as she claimed first place at the Aviva Olympic Trials where she was awarded a place in the Olympic Team, her first major competition.
“This year has gone better than I could of ever imagined, ” she said. “I ‘ve PB ‘d in all of my events this year – 1500m, 3000m, 5000m and the 3000m steeplechase.
“Training has just been going from better to better all season after missing the entire winter season due to injury.
“My injury was definitely one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through. Being on crutches, non-weight bearing for months was extremely difficult.
“Lying in bed when you see loads of other athletes posting quick times indoors really starts to get you down. Fortunately, I did everything I possibly could in order to keep fit and as soon as I was back walking I was straight into the pool, cross trainer and running on a trampette.
“To make my first ever major championships was a huge achievement – but for it to be an Olympics, a home Olympics – it truly was amazing and something I will never forget. “
It will surely take some beating to experience something like that, but what is astounding is the progression this young athlete has made.
There has been, and still is at times a lot of pressure and focus from the media because of the achievements of her coach and mum Liz McColgan, former 10,000 metres World Champion and Olympic silver medallist.
But that didn ‘t to seem to have intimidate her one bit, after all she got to run in front of 80,000 people during her 3000m steeplechase heat.
A lot of athletes have been complimenting the noise from the British crowd as they raised the decibels each and every time a member of Team GB graced the stadium.
For McColgan however, there was a sense of realisation as she entered the building, a noise she describes as something she’s never experienced before.
She said, “To go from running my first race this season at the Scottish University Championships through in a rainy Grangemouth stadium, with around 10 people maximum in the stands to the 80,000 capacity Olympic Stadium was unbelievable!
“There was a constant noise, which came across as a buzz as soon as you stepped out onto the track. I could actually hear the cheers from my balcony within the Olympic Village for Jessica Ennis ‘s first event – It was crazy.”
When Eilish isn ‘t training, she studies at the University of Dundee, studying mathematics and accountancy.
It does sound like the balance between training and studying can be quite challenging and it falls under what some current young athletes are doing in order to turn to once a career in athletics is over.
It’s something that Eilish is currently flourishing at; she has a very sensible head on her shoulders and knows that striking a balance with education, working and training is important.
It’s clear to see what drives her on and what she targets first.
She said, “I also work part-time as well as attending university in order to fund my athletics, and so it is sometimes hard to balance all three at once.
“But my training would never take a hit. To me, my athletics is what I want to do, although I realise I need a degree as a back-up plan as anything can happen in athletics.
“The main thing is to make sure you time manage everything and fit all the aspects of your life into one day. I decided to split my year at University and it really has made a difference.
“This means I have only half of a year left before getting a degree- I will then decide whether to stay on to get my honours or to leave early in order to train full-time in preparation for the 2014 games. Being a full-time athlete I believe will make a huge difference to my performances.”
It’s those performances that will be looked upon ahead of next year’s World Championships in Moscow, Russia.
A year later the Commonwealth Games will arrive in Scotland, where there is no doubt a huge reception will be given to her once she competes in the steeplechase.
Eilish’s focus however is simple, winter well, compete indoors and progress.
Throw in a special tactic and learning a new technique that she will be working on when he hits the track once more.
“My focus is definitely towards the World Championships next year, she said. “My aim, if I can stay injury free all winter, would be to make the final.
“There are some major changes in my training plan this winter – and I hope these will make a huge improvement on the track in my steeplechase.
“For the first time ever, I will be making sure that my technique over the barriers is corrected and that I am strong enough to maintain my form as the race progresses.
“Looking towards 2014, I really hope to make the team there too for the 3000m steeplechase and if I can keep making these improvements each year, that I can again make a final and be fighting for a top 5 finish.”
Be sure to follow Eilish’s progress throughout the winter and next season via her twitter page on https://twitter.com/EilishMccolgan