We have some incredible athletes who hail from Perth and that’s something we should all celebrate and be proud of. These incredible sportspeople represent our wee city and they do a brilliant job putting Perth on the sporting map. From curlers and golfers to our very own Olympians, when it comes to sport we punch well above our weight.
One athlete who continues to shine is Olympic bronze-medallist, Eilidh Doyle. Eilidh was a former Kinross High School pupil – as was fellow Team GB athlete, Laura Muir – and she was also a PE teacher at Perth Grammar School too. Back then, she was Miss Child and one of her students was yours truly!
With the World Championships underway in London, Eilidh will be hoping to add to her already impressive medal collection. She has won gold medals in European Championships, and she’s also finished on the podium in previous World Championships too, adding to her Olympic bronze-medal she won at Rio 2016. She’s got two Commonwealth Games silver medals too, which she picked up representing Scotland in Delhi and Glasgow in 2010 and 2014 respectively.
As if she could be any more decorated, the 400m hurdler was made the captain of Team GB for the World Championships, something that means a lot to her and is a testament to just how good a career she has had to date.
“It’s a huge honour for me. To captain Team GB at a home World Championships is a once in a lifetime experience but to know that I’ve been given that honour by my fellow team mates who voted for me just makes it even more special.
“It’s very competitive this year so for me, I have to race each round as if it’s the final. It’s a huge honour for me. To captain Team GB at a home World Championships is a once in a lifetime experience. The main goal would have to be to make that final and then anything can happen once you’re there. As long as I can step off that track having left everything out there then I will be happy with whatever the outcome is.”
Eilidh takes to the track for the first time in this year’s Championships tonight, in the heats for the 400m hurdles. The 30-year-old has a realistic chance of getting some more medals to add to her already fantastic haul, but she has one highlight from her career to date that stands out for her personally.
“I think it has to be becoming European Champion in 2014. It was an amazing year for me, having won silver at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow a few weeks earlier but to go to the European Championships as the favourite and be able to deliver and win is something I’m very proud of.
“Obviously winning bronze at the Olympics was huge too. It’s something I’d dreamt of ever since I was little and started to get involved in sport. You always dream about winning an Olympic medal for yourself but it’s only when you get older and participate in the sport professionally that you realise how difficult it is to actually achieve.
“For me, it was the icing on the cake in what was a really great year for me and it was the final medal needed for my own personal grand slam having already picked up medals at the Commonwealth Games and European and World Championships.”
She’s certainly come a long way from teaching kids at Perth Grammar School. Although taking me on at badminton in Bell’s Sports Centre must have been a huge highlight for her, it’s clear from her success that she made the correct decision to move on from teaching. Although she enjoyed her job at the school, the opportunity to make a go of it in athletics and go full-time was too good for her to resist.
“I knew if I really wanted to give my athletics a go I needed to go full-time, so it was an easy decision in the end. The school made it easy and were extremely supportive. They even left my job open in case everything went wrong and I needed to come back!
“I wanted to be able to look back on my athletics career having no regrets and knowing I’d given it everything so the only way I could do that was to go full-time.
“I don’t think I ever really realised that I could end up making a career out of it. They even left my job open in case everything went wrong and I needed to come back! I just did it because I loved it but I always thought I’d have to continue with school and university to make sure I had an education and a job. It was only when I was working as a teacher that I realised I could financially support myself by going full-time as an athlete.”
She’s never looked back since and as her career goes from strength to strength, her friends and family back home can look on with great pride at what she has managed to achieve.
She’s a fantastic role model for youngsters who are looking to follow in her footsteps and one day get an Olympic medal of their own. For the many kids who take to the running track at the George Duncan Athletics arena every day, and those who travel up and down the country with the Strathtay Harriers competing in events, they need look no further than Eilidh for the perfect example.
Although she’s now at the top of her sport, it’s not been come without years of hard-work and gruelling training. Eilidh has some advice for anybody who hopes to emulate her in the future.
“I think the most important thing is to enjoy what you do. I wouldn’t have been able to commit so much of my life to athletics if I didn’t love it.
“I love the training, the racing and travelling all over the world to compete. However, it’s a long process with many ups and downs. There are disappointments and you need to keep plugging away and eventually it all comes together! You have to be patient – you’ll never become a champion or winner overnight.”
You can follow Eilidh’s progress in this year’s World Athletics Championships live on the BBC. Eilidh’s first race is this evening in the women’s 400m hurdles.
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