Six Scottish athletes are heading to the European Indoor Championships in Prague next month with GB and NI – the biggest representation the sport north of the border has enjoyed in 45 years of the competition.
With the team featuring 39 British athletes in total, it is another remarkable ration for an international championship and reflects a series of fine indoor season performances.
Four Scottish men and two women were selected for the event on March 5-8 with British champions high jumper Allan Smith and 800m runner Guy Learmonth being joined by Chris O’Hare in the 1500m and 4 x400m relay squad member Jamie Bowie.
Laura Muir, who won a third successive British title in the trials in Sheffield, is joined by Kirsten McAslan – who claimed 400m gold that day and then posted the qualifying time in Birmingham the following week. Muir will run the 3000m in Prague after also attaining the 1500m standard.
Scotland had four athletes competing in 1990 when the event was held in Glasgow and Tom McKean, Brian Whittle, Karen Hutcheson and Lynne MacIntyre (MacDougall) featured for GB. Scotland have had three representatives in 1986, 1988 and 1989.
In more recent times, Lee McConnell was often a lonely Scot on UK-wide teams and, in fact, that was exactly the situation four years ago when she was Scotland’s sole representative with GB in Paris.
Two years ago, Eilidh Child picked up two medals as she was joined by Muir in Gothenburg but Child, the Scottish Athlete of the Year for 2013 and 2014, elected not to undertake an indoor season this winter.
For Smith and Learmonth it is a first Senior championship event with GB while McAslan went to the World Champs in Moscow in 2013 but didn’t receive a run as a member of the 4 x 400m relay squad. Muir, O’Hare and Bowie were all in Russia that year.
scottishathletics director of coaching, Rodger Harkins, is thrilled that the ripple effect of the Commonwealth Games is already starting to be felt – and praised the selected six for their dedication and application over a number of years to reach this level of competition.
‘I am delighted for each and every one of these athletes and their coaches and families, clubs and ‘support teams’,’ said Rodger.
‘It is once again very pleasing for Scotland to have such a good representation in a GB and NI team for a major championship – in this case the European indoors.
‘I understand it is the best representation we’ve ever had since the event began back in 1970, so that adds a bit of context to the announcement by British Athletics.
‘They will be headed for Prague to represent GB of course but I still feel in many ways they are flying the flag for athletics in Scotland and in some ways scottishathletics as well. They are role models for younger athletes in Scotland and showing what can be achieved with hard work.
‘What you have to remember is that when athletes reach this kind of level, then that selection is earned over a number of years and not a matter of weeks in one indoor season. These people have put in years and years of sessions to try and attain a level and now they are proving their quality. I’d say that all six have been aspiring to this since early in their teenage years.
‘So I am delighted for them that their application has paid off. We wish them all the very best for their performances in Prague.
‘It is exciting for us that we’re getting more people onto this kind of stage following on from seven at the World Champs in Moscow in 2013 and five for the World Indoors in Sopot last year .’
Scots selected for Prague with GB and NI:
Guy Learmonth – 800m
Chris O’Hare – 1500m
Allan Smith – high jump
Jamie Bowie – 4 x 400m relay
Laura Muir – 3000m
Kirsten McAslan – 400m and 4 x 400m relay