Scottish athletics is celebrating its highest contribution to an Olympic team since Munich in 1972, after seven athletes secured automatic selection for Rio 2016 at the British Championships.
Director of Coaching, Roger Harkins, hailed the results as Eilidh Doyle, Steph Twell, Laura Muir and Chris Bennett clinched British titles.
Harkins said: “It has been a terrific weekend for Scottish athletes and their coaches in Birmingham and we’re all excited by the performances.
“We want to firmly congratulate those athletes who have put themselves in the frame for automatic selection for the Olympics. That is the pinnacle of the sport and they’ve put in so much hard work to achieve standards and high finishes at the British Championships.
“Our Olympic-bound athletes are providing inspiration and motivation for other Scottish athletes – and that is a great thing for the sport. Overall, I am thrilled. Six was a target we had spoken about so to exceed that so emphatically is a massive encouragement.”
Scots athletes landed 16 medals in total, to add Beth Potter’s gold in the 10,000m in May.
Eilish McColgan, Lynsey Sharp, Chris O’Hare, Jax Thoirs, Lennie Waite, and Mark Dry collected silvers, with bronze for Laura Whittle, Kirsty Law, Jake Wightman, and Allan Smith.
Doyle, who retained her 400m hurdles title in 54.93 said: “It’s great to confirm qualification to the Olympic Games. I’m confident going into that competition as the hurdles field on the international stage is wide open this year. I’ve got to keep working hard because they don’t just hand out medals to anyone so I will be fighting for one. Until you have cemented that spot on the team, you can’t properly focus on it.”
Laura Muir, also retained her title in 4:10.14. She said: “It feels great – I just wanted to tick that box and seal my place on the team for Rio. Winning races always boosts your confidence but to win the British title means a lot to me. I’m in the best shape I can be.”
In the Women’s 5000m both winner Steph Twell, in 15:53.35 and second-placed Eilish McColgan claimed their Rio spots, with Laura Whittle in third now reliant on a discretionary pick.
Twell said: “It’s fantastic; what a relief. I’ve been on a long journey to get to Rio but it has been worth it. The race was very tense as there were three of us going for those top two spots. There is no greater motivator than aiming to qualify for an Olympic Games.”
McColgan added: “It hasn’t really sunk in yet, my main aim this year was to get myself back running again after having the whole of 2015 out. To now have secured my place is amazing. It’s not very often you come second in a race and you’re pretty happy with it.”
Texas-based Lennie Waite clinched silver and the top two finish she needed in the 3000m steeplechase in 9.54.06. She said: “I can’t really believe it. I wanted to win, so I’m disappointed. It makes it so much easier because now I can start training for Rio and that’s a great position to be in.”
Second place for Lynsey Sharp in the 800m completed the dozen who have booked their Rio places. She said: “It was just about getting top two. It was always going to be a competitive race with so many girls chasing qualifying. I’m disappointed to have not held on to it in the end.”