Eilish McColgan had a grin the width of Red Square after qualifying for the women’s 3000m steeplechase world championships final in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow — but it took a new personal best and a Scottish record from the Dundee athlete to earn the place.
Fellow Scot Susan Partridge made it a Super Saturday for the Scots when she broke into elite distance running by finishing 10th, and the leading Briton, in the women’s marathon.
Drawn in the second heat, with nine of the 15 starters faster than her on paper, McColgan doggedly stayed in contention for seven laps before digging deep in the home straight to finish seventh and qualify as a fastest loser.
“I’m really, really pleased,” she said after her new Scottish record of 9 mins 35.82 secs was confirmed.
“I could see the five automatic qualifying spots just ahead of me and I thought I had just missed out. I wasn’t sure time-wise what we’d just run.
“To be honest, I couldn’t ask for any more than a place in the final. I’ve worked so hard and, after everything that’s happened I just wanted to be there on Tuesday. I couldn’t be happier.”
The 22-year-old Hawkhill Harrier, daughter of Liz who won the world 10,000m title in 1991, had treatment for a painful shin injury at the GB & NI holding camp in Barcelona.
“To come out and run a personal best after the eight weeks I’ve just had is unbelievable,” she said.
“I’ve only managed to run twice a week and all my other training has been in the pool and on the cross trainer to try to maintain fitness. I was doing so much there that the whole team thought I was crazy.
“I’ve had a personal best at everything this season – 1,500m, 3,000m and 3,000m indoors. The only one missing was thesteeplechase, and I couldn’t work out why that was happening.
“Two weeks ago I tried jogging again as I thought my injury was getting better but it went the opposite way.
“I was so tired. I felt very heavy and was struggling to run fast so I sat down with my mum and a couple of the other GB coaches and said: ‘Right, we’ll back off from that and try a different approach.’
“So this is the first race I have tapered down for. It felt a bit weird. I didn’t know what to do with myself as I wasn’t doing the big bulk training but it has obviously worked today as I have come out with a personal best and made that final.”
The top three in Saturday’s two heats were filled by Kenyan and Ethiopian women. McColgan will face them again in tomorrow’s final, which takes place at 9.25pm local time.