Ahead of the members vote for the Sports Journalists’ Association British Sports Awards, we asked members of the SJA Academy to make their case for contenders to win sportsman, sportswoman and team of the year. CHARLIE PATRICK on why Eilish McColgan’s 2022 summer to remember deserves the prize.
There aren’t many superlatives left to describe Eilish McColgan’s 2022 season as she came away with four medals from a blockbuster summer.
It was a record-breaking year for the Dundee Hawkill athlete, as she won gold and silver at the Commonwealth Games and silver and bronze at the European Championships.
It’s not just medals, McColgan has also been breaking records, as she beat Paula Radcliffe’s British 10km record with a time of 30:19 in May at the Great Manchester Run.
McColgan, coached by her mother, former 10,000m World Champion and Olympic silver medalist Liz McColgan, also set new personal bests in the 10,000m, 5km and the half marathon.
After a disappointing World Championships in Eugene, where she suffered health issues in the buildup, McColgan could only manage 11th in the 5000m and 10th in the 10,000m.
The Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, her third, was an opportunity to put that disappointment behind her and she did exactly that.
Very few will forget that night in Birmingham as McColgan dug deep to out-sprint Kenya’s Irine Cheptai on the final lap of the 10,000m to secure a sensational gold medal for Scotland in front of a sold-out Alexander Stadium as she matched her mother’s achievement from 1986 and 1990.
The 10,000m win was her first major title and was also a Commonwealth Games record, which had previously been held by her mother for 32 years.
McColgan said: “It has been such an up and down year. But I knew the fitness was somewhere in me. Having my family here and the crowd here. It was vibrating through my whole body. I just wanted it so bad.”
To cap off an amazing week, McColgan also took silver in the 5000m, improving on her sixth place in the same event back on the Gold Coast in 2018.
She then carried her country’s flag at the closing ceremony.
At the European Championships in Munich a week later McColgan added another two medals, a silver in the 10,000m and a bronze in the 5000m to become the first British distance runner to compete in six championships outdoor finals in the same season.
She said: “Everyone thought I was mad wanting to do the double or three, but I’ve got four medals and four medals more than I did at the start of the year and I’m just so proud.”
She will be looking to build upon a fantastic 2022 season by adding more medals in 2023 with the World Championships in Budapest the highlight of the season and few would bet against her doing that.