Abu Dhabi: One of Great Britain’s greatest long-distance runners, Liz McColgan, is delighted to have nurtured an Olympian in her own gritty image — her daughter Eilish.
The 25-year-old Scot was in the early hours of Saturday morning UAE time due to run in the women’s 5,000-metres final at the Rio Games, 28 years after her 52-year-old mother won silver in the 10,000m at the Seoul Olympics.
It marks a remarkable triumph over adversity for McColgan Junior, who only resumed training in January for the global showpiece after a year out with a broken ankle.
Two screws and a metal plate were inserted to address the debilitating ailment, leading the Dundee-born runner to liken herself to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s iconic cyborg creation, ‘The Terminator’.
And her proud mum, who also won 1991 World Championship gold and was twice a Commonwealth Games champion in 1986 and 1990, told Gulf News in an exclusive interview: “It’s just really, really exciting that your kid is getting a buzz out of something that I thoroughly enjoyed doing — and she’s got pretty good at it.”
Of her long-term hopes for her Eilish, who finished sixth in the European Championships last month and who switched to the longer distance from the 3,000-metre steeplechase, McColgan added: “I personally think she could be a fantastic 10K runner. My intentions are to move her up, but do it very gradually.
“Maybe in the third year, she could move up to 10K and do that at the Olympics.”
Eilish, who qualified fifth in her heat for the 5,000m final, was targeting a top-eight finish and has said there was no pressure on her given the hurdles she has already surmounted.
Her mother, who is a pundit on Qatar-based beIN Sports’ coverage of the Olympics in the Mena region and who helps coach her daughter with her ex-husband Peter, agreed.
“The start of the year, our goal was to make the final,” the Doha Athletics Club coach said. “If she made the final, that was her Olympics. When we started her programme in January, she couldn’t walk properly let alone run.
“She’s only been able to run twice a day and only running 35-40 miles a week. I don’t think anyone else in the world at this level is running such few miles as that. For her to actually achieve times such as that and the training she had to adjust to, is pretty amazing.”