Dundee children delighted by gold medallist McColgan’s homecoming

Dundee children delighted by gold medallist McColgan’s homecoming

Eilish meets children benefiting from scheme she’s behind as athlete returns home after stunning season which saw her celebrate Commonwealth and European successes

Commonwealth gold medalist Eilish McColgan has returned to her home city and met children she’s inspiring and supporting to follow in her footsteps.

The three-times Olympian put a group of Dundee youngsters through their paces following an incredible season which saw her not just take gold and silver at the Commonwealth Games, but secure a medal double at the European Championships.

The eight to 11-year-olds all take part in a free P5-P7 after-school athletics club at the city’s Balgarthno education campus which is funded by the record-breaking athlete’s Giving Back to Track project.

And they were delighted to get the chance to meet her as she works alongside her own running club, Dundee Hawkhill Harriers, and Leisure and Culture Dundee’s Active Schools programme to help children on the path to sporting success.

The recently-launched club is the first of a network she hopes to see around the city - then throughout Scotland - to support the next generation of athletes.

McColgan met the youngsters ahead of sharing the story of her season at a special event hosted by one of her long-term sponsors, the Dundee legal firm Lindsays.

She said: “I am so excited by the launch of the after-school clubs and have been looking forward to meeting some of the children taking part. It’s great to see how enthusiastic they are and to see everything take shape.

“The support I get from everyone at home in Dundee is amazing. To be able to repay that by helping children in the community become involved in sport means a lot to me.

“Thanks to my team-mates at the Hawks, sponsors including Lindsays and Active Schools, I really hope that we can create some great opportunities for people who might otherwise not have had the chance to try athletics.”

Some of the children involved in the recently launched after-school club - which takes in pupils from Camperdown Primary and St Clement’s RC Primary schools - are also now attending Hawks training sessions.

Dundee Active Schools Coordinator Jane Dunlop is delighted to be working alongside record-breaker McColgan.

She said: “It is truly inspiring for all the pupils to know that Eilish, a world-class athlete, is backing them as they begin their journey in athletics.

“Providing high-quality opportunities for children is something Active Schools strives to achieve. As a result of Eilish helping clubs like this one, even more children can now enjoy the benefits of taking part in sport and physical activity."

McColgan has launched Giving Back to Track alongside her partner and fellow Olympian Michael Rimmer as a not-for-profit project to remove financial barriers to young people becoming involved in athletics.

As well as the after-school club, the project also covers the costs of five young athletes who attend weekly Hawkhill Harrier track sessions.

McColgan - the daughter of Dundonian Olympic medallist Liz McColgan - shared some of her hopes for Giving Back to Track and the next stages of her career during an event at Dundee’s Malmaison Hotel after meeting the children.

Organised by Lindsays, who have supported her for almost a decade, it included a question and answer session with her, hosted by the firm’s Chief Operating Officer Ian Beattie, who is also the chairman of UK Athletics.

Lindsays Managing Partner Alasdair Cummings said: “This has been a tremendous chance to get people from across Dundee together to show how proud they are of Eilish and to celebrate her remarkable success.

“It’s fascinating to hear the inside track on what’s been a phenomenal year. What’s more exciting is that we know there’s so much she still wants to achieve.

“The fact that she is so determined to help others while being focussed on the next stage in her career really is amazing. We are pleased to be able to support her.”

Guests at the Lindsays event included members of Dundee Hawkhill Harriers, schoolchildren and business leaders. To find out more about Giving Back to Track, go to www.givingbacktotrack.org.

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