Track legend Liz McColgan’s daughter aims to follow in mother’s footsteps with OIympic glory
Oct 13 2011 Rick Fulton
eilish mccolgan Image 1
LIZ McCOLGAN’S dream of Olympic glory for her daughter is back on track.
The Scottish track legend was devastated in August when 20-year-old Eilish suffered a broken foot, leaving her hopes of a place in the Olympics next year hanging by a thread.
But on Tuesday night Eilish, who excels in the 3000m steeplechase, was given the all-clear by her surgeon to start walking on the foot again.
She will now undergo intensive rehabilitation and should be back in full training after Christmas, ahead of the Games, which get started in nine months.
Liz said: “I’m pleased. It’s been a hard couple of months for her and now she can see light at the end of the tunnel.
“I think she’s still got time and I’m confident she will make the trials in July next year for the Olympic squad.
“She’s had a great attitude and, although she’s been on crutches and wearing a protective boot, she’s been keeping her training up in the pool and with cycling.”
It’s been a nerve-shredding few months for mother and daughter after Eilish suffered a broken foot at the Diamond League event in London.
The youngster set a new Scottish steeplechase record in the race but ran the last 550 metres after a fall, which resulted in surgery and having a plate put in her foot.
It’s not the first time injury has scuppered Eilish’s dreams.
She was selected to compete in the Commonwealth Youth Games in India in 2008 but suffered a major knee injury that took her a year-and-a-half to recover from.
If Eilish can battle back and get to London 2012, she would become the first Scottish daughter of an Olympic athlete to perform at the Games.
It wouldn’t be the first time in Olympic history that a mother and daughter have both competed.
Russian Irina Nazarova won a relay gold medal in 1980, following in the footsteps of her mother, Elizabeth Bagrinaseva, who took gold in the discus in 1952.
While Liz scooped silver, she is hoping her daughter will go one better and bag a gold – but maybe not next year.
She said: “I don’t think she’s there yet for a medal but she could set a new British record.
“She’s got it in her and was only a second off it running with a broken foot.
“My hope is she’d be in a good position to win gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and then be ready for chasing a medal at the Olympics in 2016.”
It would be an amazing case of deja vu for Liz.
She won her first gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in 1986 as a 22-year-old in the 10,000m.
She became a national treasure – not just because it was the only track and field win for Scotland, but due to the fact that she celebrated draped in a saltire.
She went on to bag silver in the 10,000m at the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988, and won a second Commonwealth gold in 1990 for the 10,000m, as well as bronze after competing in the 3000m.
She then became World Champion in 1991 and would go on to take three gold medals in the marathons of New York, Tokyo and London. Having retired in 2001, Liz now coaches some of Scotland’s most promising youngsters.
The oldest of Liz’s five children, Eilish has now been nominated for the Under-23 athlete of the year at the Scottish Athletics Sports Awards on October 29. Liz is up for coach of the year.
Once Eilish is back running, Liz hopes she’ll go to Kenya in January for an altitude camp.
They will also decide whether the youngster will compete in the 3000m steeplechase or the 5k trials for next year’s Olympics.
But for now they are focusing on Eilish walking again. And Liz will be right by her side.
Eilish, a sports scholar at Dundee University, showed early promise when she won the 2004 British cross-country championships in her age group, and was ranked top in Scotland over 800m and 1500m.
While Liz’s other children are still too young to compete, like most parents, Liz knows how hard it is to get kids off the computer and out of the house.
She said: “I’ve got four and they play the games. You’ve got to find the balance.
“I have no problem with it as long as they are outside as well.
“I wouldn’t want them on 24/7 but I think for all kids, especially during the summer months, it’s good to get outside and get social skills by playing with your mates.
“It used to be that you would walk your kids to and from school, or take them on the bike, but now they are taken by car.
“There’s a lot of inactivity because our lifestyles have changed. I know it’s difficult if you’ve been working all day.
“It’s easy to pop the telly on, let them play the games, so you can chill out.
“You have to make an effort and get on a bike or take them to the park at the weekend.”
Like many involved in sport, Liz is overjoyed that Britain has the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games 2014, showcasing talent and creating stadiums and pools in London and Glasgow.
Liz, from Panbride, near Carnoustie in Angus, trains her youngsters in Dundee and says more cash needs to be pumped into Scotland’s facilities.
She said: “It’s ridiculous what we train on.
“But the Ethiopians and the Kenyans have nothing and they are able to cope with it, so we’ve got better than some people.
“It’s certainly better than when I was younger. It’s not perfect or ideal, and our track is not in good repair, but you make the best of what you’ve got.
“You don’t moan, you just get on with it.”
Liz now runs a property and leisure business but will take time out for the Olympics.
She said: “I’m hoping to be at the Olympics in a coaching capacity. But the BBC haven’t approached me to be a pundit.
“An event like that lifts the atmosphere in the country, even in Scotland, and doom and gloom goes by the wayside.”
Next week, the former Sports Personality of the Year is a panellists for the Question of Sport tour.
The show is at Glasgow Clyde Auditorium on October 22, with host Sue Barker and team captains Phil Tufnell and Matt Dawson joined by Dennis Taylor among others.
Liz joins the panel for the Edinburgh Usher Hall leg on October 23 with Dennis and Dominic Cork.
She said: “It’s much better fun than the television shows. There’s lots of banter with the audience.”