Friday, 24 February 2017
Gifted and talented athletes and pupils in the Junior Schools were excited to meet Olympic runner Eilish McColgan when she visited the School to talk about her career.
Eilish is a double Olympian, having competed at London 2012 in the 3000m steeplechase and Rio 2016 in the 5000m. She is not only an Olympic and World finalist, but also a Scottish record holder, three time British Champion, and has come 6th at the Commonweath Games and 6th at the European Championships. Just a few days before her visit, she was selected for Team GB for the following week’s European Indoor Championships, competing in the 1500m and 3000m.
She spoke to pupils about the very beginnings of her interest in athletics with high jump, javelin and cross country when she was twelve or thirteen years old, and how she quickly realised that running was the sport for her. However, she also stressed that it has nonetheless taken her many years of dedication and training to compete in the 5000m.
Giving an overview of her career, Eilish described the amazing feeling of stepping out onto the track during the London 2012 Olympic Games, competing in the Worlds in 2013 and the Commonwealth Games in 2014. She also described some of her worse injuries, notably a broken navicular in her foot in 2011 and a broken ankle in 2015. Although the broken ankle did force her to change events to the 5000m, she still found a way to achieve her dream of getting to the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Eilish also talked about a typical year of training, from high-altitude camps in Kenya and the US and the benefits of these, through racing and into winter training. She also mentioned that the high-altitude camps allowed her to train alongside athletes such as Mo Farrah and Usain Bolt, and not only see their dedication on the track but also how driven they are in all aspects of their life. She explained that sport has given her the opportunity to travel the world and make friends, not just with fellow elite athletes but with those runners from her first club.
Finally, she gave some great tips for all those interested in pursuing sport to a high level: enjoy it and be dedicated, eat healthily, and build in recovery time and sleep.
Opening the floor to questions, Eilish was immediately asked about how she went about recovering from her 2015 injury and how she managed to compete in a new event in 2016, and spoke about how she found ways other than running to keep her body strong and healthy: notably running in the pool, getting on the bike and cross training. She was also asked how to balance school work with training, and advised good time management and keeping to a schedule, while also remembering to prioritise study.
Eilish gave two presentations during her visit, the first to a group of the School’s elite sports pupils from the Boys’ and Girls’ Divisions and the Junior Girls’ athletics team, and the second to the Junior Boys and Junior Girls in Year 4. All of the pupils were delighted to hear from such an inspiring Olympic athlete, who has overcome adversity to become faster and stronger, and to compete at the highest levels of her sport.
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