A SCOTTISH athletics star has taken time out of her gruelling training schedule to inspire children across Inverclyde to get active.
Eilish McColgan, who recently won a European silver medal in the 5,000m, spent a few days in the area meeting young people and encouraging them to get into sport.
During her stay, Eilish, who competed at the London Olympics in 2012 and went on to reach the final of the 5,000m at Rio 2016, visited St Columba’s High in Gourock for their ‘Active Girls Day’ and also went to St Stephen’s High in Port Glasgow.
Speaking to fifth and sixth year pupils at St Stephen’s, Eilish said she hopes to inspire young people to achieve not just their sporting goals but their life goals too.
The 27-year-old told the Tele: “I’ve been chatting about my career as a professional athlete.
“I also spoke about the obstacles you come across and what it takes to overcome those obstacles, not just for professional athletes but in life.
“I also chatted about the qualities you need in order to be a professional in everything you do.
“It takes a lot of hard work and determination to achieve any goal so I like to to get that across.
“These pupils are at a crucial age as they will be starting to decide what they want to do and what they want they want to achieve.
“Even if one pupil is inspired to follow their goal then it’s a job well done.”
Arrianna Loughran, a sixth year pupil at St Stephen’s who is studying advanced Higher PE, says Eilish has encouraged her to start running again.
The 17-year-old said: “Eilish has encouraged me to get back into athletics.
“I used to train, specifically in high jump and the 800m with Inverclyde Athletic Club, but when the exams started in fourth year I stopped going.
“I always wanted to get back into it and Eilish has inspired me to start back.
“I’m thinking about becoming a PE teacher and I have been with Active Schools so I definitely want to do something sports-related.”
Iain Forster, who is a PE teacher and the principal teacher of health and wellbeing at the school, said Eilish, daughter of Scots running legend Liz McColgan, is a superb role model for the teenagers.
He said: “It was absolutely fantastic to welcome Eilish to the school.
“We have been focusing on goal setting for our senior pupils and Eilish is a fantastic example.”
Eilish and her partner Michael Rimmer, who is also an Olympian, also headed to Ravenscraig Stadium where she completed a training session, much to the delight of young athletes from Greenock Glenpark Harriers and Inverclyde Athletic Club.
Robert Dolan, who is the Glenpark president, said: “I knew Eilish was going to be in the area visiting schools as she tweeted asking if there were any hotels in the area with gyms.
“I messaged her saying that if she had time she could come along to Ravenscraig to train and meet the children.
“It was great that she came along, as the children had the chance to watch her train.
“They were so excited to meet her.”