McColgan hoping to ‘sneak’ Olympic 10,000m bronze

Date: Thursday, 30 November Time: 20:00 GMT TV channel: BBC Scotland

Commonwealth champion Eilish McColgan thinks she can “sneak a bronze medal” at next year’s Paris Olympics.

But the Scot accepts it is far likelier to be in the 10,000m on the track, with the Games probably coming too soon for her marathon debut following injury.

The 33-year-old feels it is the 10,000m, in which she won gold at Birmingham 2022, that she will probably compete in at her fourth Olympics.

“The timeframes will be tight for the marathon,” McColgan told BBC Scotland.

“I’d have to qualify by April, which would mean the London Marathon would be the last attempt to qualify for Paris. It’s still an option.

“It’s not something I’m completely writing off, but I think, realistically, I already have the qualifying time for the 10,000m, so it gives me until the end of June to show fitness and form to be selected for that.”

McColgan, who withdrew from her debut in this year’s London Marathon the week before the event, had been hoping to race over 26 miles in Paris but has yet to compete anywhere over the distance because of the hamstring and knee problems that cut short her 2023 season.

“If time frames are a little bit too tight for April, I can push things back to the end of June and give myself that extra couple of months,” she said. “Paris is ultimately the main goal for me.

“I’m really focused on being there for my fourth Olympics and, if the marathon has to wait until Berlin, Chicago, New York, whatever it is, then I know I’ll run a marathon at some point, but I just won’t be forcing it to be ready before my body’s ready.”

If McColgan does revert back to the distance that brought her Commonwealth glory, she will be trying to emulate yet another of her mother Liz’s feats on the track – bringing home an Olympic medal.

Coach and mum Liz took silver in Seoul in 1988 and Eilish, having now bettered her mum’s Scottish distance records on the track, feels the Paris podium is now within her grasp.

“I think winning it is outside my realm at the moment,” she admitted. “I’d have to have people having a pretty bad day and me having an exceptional one to be right up there.

“But I think there’s no reason why you can’t be sneaking a bronze medal at the Olympic Games.

“So, for me, I need that extra little bit of confidence from training and racing. I think I got that last year running 30 minutes flat for the 10k. I knew there was a 29-something within me in the right race. I took a lot of confidence from breaking that British record.”

Paula Radcliffe’s old mark had stood for 21 years before McColgan bettered it in California.

Before Radcliffe, the record had belonged for several years to Eilish’s mum and this McColgan distance dynasty is celebrated in a new BBC documentary that has brought back some cherished memories for both.

“It’s actually really special, even seeing my grandparents as well,” she said. “My grandad passed away a long time ago, so seeing him on screen was really, really emotional.

“It’s very, very unusual to have your mum go on exactly the same journey that you’re following 33 years later. It’s just very special for my family to have all that footage. I never expected it to go this way. I wasn’t a kid who grew up dreaming of the Olympics. I just love to run.”

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