Following on from Alyson Bell’s very successful season as a first year under 17, winning a total of seven National & School titles, including an U20 Scottish National Championships 100m. She got off to a great start in her second year by almost immediately picking up another 3 National & School titles indoors and in doing so she also improved the Scottish record for the 60m’s indoors previously held by Lindsay MacDonald, in a new time of 7.57 just prior to the first lockdown.
Fortunately, her achievements had not gone un-noticed and they earned her a surprised invite to compete in the 100m at the Müller British Athletics Championships at Manchester Regional Arena on 4th of September 2020. Despite a lack of competition opportunities outdoors in 2020 she ran a great time of 11.99. In recognition of her hard work and commitment she has just recently received a further fantastic surprise from British Athletics inviting her to be part of the 2021 Futures Sprint Relays (4 x 100m) Programme.
The programme aims to confirm and support u20 athletes and coaches with the necessary relay skills, abilities and behaviours to progress on to the World Class Programme and to support those who have highlighted the potential to be successful at future Olympic Games, as part of a relay team and as an individual.
Many congratulations from all at Giffnock North to Alyson, her family and her coach Billy Glasgow. We also think it’s important to recognise the role Alyson’s training group play in her athletics . So thanks to them too.
- Like many sports, training has been different for the last year. How have you coped with the difference to your training routine and how do you feel it will be when normal training conditions resume?
I have quite enjoyed the time to train to myself and get to know what suits me and my body best in the past year or so now. Music has been a major help in getting me through sessions by myself or with my coach (who I am sure is now sick of listening to my tunes). However, I have found training alone, although maybe not as much of a good laugh and as exciting, as it would be with the rest of my training partners, has been a blessing in disguise as I have been able to put together some great sessions and feel I am making progress in the right directions towards a good outdoor season in the summer.
- Over the period of Covid-19, grass roots sport has been affected and many sports are looking to increase their participation levels again. How did you begin your journey into athletics?
I began my journey into Athletics by getting entered into the Scottish schools multi events because I was a fast runner on the rugby and hockey pitch (I also wanted the extra days off school in the summer term). From there I managed to get a SIAB selection and after attending the training days in the build-up to that competition, and doing a few more schools competitions over the summer, I decided I enjoyed the few training sessions I did and wanted to do more, so joined the clubs sprints group and things progressed from there.
- Whilst you now specialise in Long Jump, this was not always the case. How important do you think it is, to train and compete in lots of different events when you start athletics?
Yes, I think it is crucial for younger children to continue with as many events as they can and even continue with as many sports as they can. I tackled every sport and athletics event I could think of before focusing on long jump, even after achieving good standards in long jump I was doing other events. Without the variety of events and sports I did before specialising, I do not think I would have got as far as I have in this sport.
You are well supported by the club and Scottish Athletics. What does this support mean to you as you progress with your athletics career?
I cannot express my thanks towards everyone who has supported me over the years, from the volunteers at the club who gave me the enjoyment and encouragement to get involved and to now having access to train in Glasgow during the pandemic through the Scottish Institute of Sport and being fortunate enough to compete during February. This has really helped me progress coming up the age groups and especially now over the last year as I feel I have transitioned well from a junior to senior athlete. Without the access facilities over the winter that I was so fortunate to have, I would have struggled to train as well as I have especially with it being a technical event that I do.
- We are approaching competition season, what does a typical training week look like for you just now?
A typical training week just now consists of 6 days Monday – Saturday. Monday and Friday I do two sessions one at the track followed by one in the gym, on a Tuesday I do active recovery/rest and work on my mobility (which is my least favourite thing to do!), a Wednesday I do some technical jump work, on a Thursday I am at the track running and a Saturday I do some light tempo and some bounding. On a Sunday I try to manage a game of golf if the weather is nice as that is my day off from training.
- It has been a while since you have participated in a competition for your event, Long Jump. What are your aims for this season and how do you feel you have prepared yourself to reach these?
I am very excited to get back into competitive jumping as it feels like a lifetime since I last jumped and I am happy with the changes and improvements I have made in training and my lifestyle. My aims for the summer are (assuming everything goes as planned) to be selected for the European U23 championships in July and to obtain a qualifying distance in my bid for Commonwealth Games 2022 selection. I think these goals are ambitious but very much doable and I would much rather aim high and fall short knowing I have done my best than settle for smaller goals and less achievements.
Thanks you Alessandro for taking the time out to give us your perspective . Greta to hear form you and all the very best with your competitions this season .
- Finlay, you have been competing for a long time in athletics. What first inspired you to start athletics and how has your training and involvement within the sport developed over time?
When I was younger, I tried a variety of different sports like football and swimming, but when I was 7 I started athletics and ever since then I’ve loved training and competing in the sport. When first starting in the sport I was doing run, jump and throws sessions, with Annan and District Athletics Club a couple of times a week and competing at small local competitions. Early on I decided that sprinting was my favourite event and started to train 3 times a week with some of the older athletes at my club.
In 2016, after about 6 years training with the club in Annan I moved into a new training group, where I was training 4 times a week travelling into Lanarkshire and Dumfries(to try and get a more specialised level of coaching).
In 2018 I moved clubs to Giffnock to get more opportunity for higher level competition, and also to get the chance to compete in the likes of the national relays which I had never previously had the chance to take part in. Last year I moved training groups again into Ryan’s training group where I am training 5-6 times a week. One of my favourite moments so far was being invited to compete at the British Athletics Indoor championships in Glasgow last year.
- Before Covid, you had been training on your own, or with your brother for some time. Have you found the restrictions challenging to cope with or has it not affected your training much?
When we first went into lockdown I think a lot of people found it much harder to stay focused and motivated than I did because most people are so used to having a group around them, but for me nothing really changed as for a large amount of my time in athletics I have trained under these circumstances, so I managed to cope with it fine and it hasn’t affected me too much. It has been frustrating though, as I had only just joined Ryan’s group prior to Covid so I have not yet managed to get regular training sessions which has made technical work a struggle to get in.
- When you came to leaving school, how much did your involvement in athletics affect where you applied for further education and what you chose to study?
When it came to leaving school, athletics played a massive part in where and what I decided to study. I am currently studying Sports Therapy at City of Glasgow College, and a huge part of why I decided to study there was due to the fact that being in Glasgow was going to allow me the best opportunity to continue developing as an athlete, as it would allow me much more regular access to my coach. I decided to go to college as it is two and a half days teaching a week, which gives me a lot more time and freedom for training.
- You are now in your second year of the Scottish Athletics 4J Academy, what has the involvement of the academy meant for you and how has it help you as an athlete?
Being involved in the academy has been great, to be recognised after a successful season in 2019 was rewarding. It’s great being part of a group of talented and likeminded athletes. Unfortunately, because of Covid we haven’t managed to meet in person much and experience a lot of what the academy is usually like, but we have still had a lot of zoom calls which have been good and educational.
- As you mature as an athlete, what areas do you recognise as needing your focus in the coming year?
One area I recognise as needing focused on this year is my starts and acceleration. These areas are things that until the last year I have never really done too much specific training in so there is certainly a lot of work to be done there. Also, as I think anyone who has watched me run can see my running mechanics are still in need of a lot of work so that is something I’m looking to focus on in order to continue improving. I take a lot of confidence in the fact I have run the times I have whilst still having these big weaknesses because it means there is a lot of room for improvement to bring my times down significantly.
- We are all hopeful that we will have a competition season this year. What are you aims for the outdoor season this year?
Outdoor season this year I am just hoping to run some fast times. I always really enjoy competing at championships and that is where my fastest times always come so being able to run at Scottish and English championships again should they go ahead will be a great opportunity to run the fast times. I would also love to try and get selected for any internationals if they go ahead.
Thanks very much Finlay for this great insight after the most challenging year .
Firstly, many apologies from Giffnock North Athletics Club for the wait you have had.
Due to COVID-19, We have been unable to offer places at the Club and organise our usual inductions for all new members. The last one was held in February 2020 . This was just before the 1st Lockdown.
We are, of course, bound by the COVID rules and restrictions set by Scottish Government, Sports Scotland and our governing body Scottish Athletics and we were only able to resume sessions in August 2020.
The restrictions have meant, for our existing club members, that we need to have small groups of athletes with allocated coaches and a pre-booking system in place for Test & Protect purposes.
We recognise fully our responsibilities to ensure safe training for all. It has been an immense organisational task as the rules and restrictions eased and group sizes changed frequently. Then the 2nd Lockdown occurred in December and a further cessation of training had to take place. We have only recently resumed training as you will know. We have been as frustrated as you and your athletes must be. If you are in receipt of this email it is confirmation that we will be looking to help when we can.
PRESENT SITUATION FOR ATHLETES U13 and Above
We have recently moved our athletes up to the next Age Groups. [ Delayed from September 2020] and are currently reviewing what spaces there are in training groups following this exercise. We hope to be able to contact you with better news as this review takes place. We will do so as soon as we can, but this will still depend on our coaching capacity and is underlined by our continuing commitment and adherence to Covid Safe practice at the club.
We thank you and your older athletes for your continuing patience. Sometimes spaces arise in training groups for older athlete and if so, we will ensure you are contacted.
SITUATION FOR ATHLETES Age 9 and who became 10 after 1/9/20
We must make you aware that it will be easier for us to immediately accept younger athletes at the present time as spaces in U11s have become available. We will be contacting you shortly to offer sessions based on age and the length of time on the waiting list. We have to emphasise that U11s in athletics terms mean those athletes age 9 and those who became 10 subsequent to the 1st September 2020.
This is difficult to understand. Some of you will be saying, but my athlete is only 10 and only turned 10 in May/ June /July /August 2020 etc and they’ve been on the list for months.. They are U13 however, for Track & Field events this summer.
We have had several offers of coaching /parental help input. Thank you. We will be following your offers up. We will need ongoing assistance if we are to develop our capacity and maintain the progress we have made at Giffnock North. If you are interested at all please let us know. Please email us here.
Otherwise, we ask you to wait to hear from us
Please bear with us as we work through this period to find solutions.
The Zoom Question & Answer with GB&NI International middle distance athlete Neil Gourley was hosted by Olympian Lynne Macdougall, who posed questions forwarded by club members. Croy Thomson with the report of the event.
Willing as ever to give back to the club where he began his running career, Neil kindly joined us in the immediate aftermath of the 2021 European Indoor Championships, in Torun, Poland. Three days previously, he had reached his 1500 final in considerable style, winning his heat ahead of eventual gold medallist Jakob Ingebrigtsen, but a twelfth-place performance in the final left him, in his own words, ‘fuming’. Regardless, Neil remained as good as his word to his club and fulfilled his commitment to GN, fronting up like the true gentleman and sportsman he is, and direct from Torun treated a great turn-out of attendees to a typically honest, insightful and informative hour’s chat, covering a broad range of aspects of top-class distance running.
How did you start out in athletics?
“It all began when one of my teachers, Mrs Thomson at Merrylee Primary, spotted me doing quite well in a school fun run. She suggested I go along to Giffnock North. I felt pretty good about that, because some of my friends had been ‘scouted’ by football clubs, and here was me being scouted too, for an athletics club!
I duly went along to Giffnock North, where Coach Clare Stevenson made it fun, with drills and my first races. The drills remain a strong memory, such as trying to run without using my arms. I did okay in my first race, and I stuck at it.”
Were you always the fastest athlete?
“Not really – I was usually there or there abouts, and I got better, but nothing special. Other guys were more physically developed than me. I made it into the top ten in Scotland … I just kept plugging away, I felt I was doing quite well and I was happy to plug away for the club.
Under Coach Gordon Lockie, I started to treat the sport more seriously, and I felt I could get better. The training group was competitive and Gordon was great at getting us ready to compete. [Neil’s group included Jack Walker, Max Lott and Grant Muir –between them they set and still hold two Scottish age-group 3×800 relay records; Neil became a National U17 XC Champion; Grant holds the national U17 3k outdoor track record.]
I was fortunate to develop physically around the ages of 16 to 17, and I started winning at Scottish national level, which previously I hadn’t thought about. Thanks go to Gordon for giving us so much of his time and encouragement.”
How would you describe the club’s contribution to helping you become an international athlete?
“I would be nowhere near where I am, without the club. The club got me to a level where I could see where I could go on to. I was in a great young team and it was good fun, seeing if we could make YAL Finals in Birmingham and so on. I miss that club and team experience, it helped me love the sport.”
Why did you go to America, and why did you choose Virginia Tech as the University to go to?
[Neil attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University in Blackburg, Virginia, for five years, earning a degree in Mechanical Engineering, as well as competing for the University athletics squad.]
“I’d noticed that Chris O’Hare [highly successful Edinburgh AC middle distance athlete] was doing good stuff at University of Tulsa in Oklahoma. He was a pioneer for middle-distance runners back in Scotland. I saw how well he was doing, and I felt, what a great stepping stone for progress, to be in a place where sport is well accommodated [within an academic context]. It’s tougher to do that here in Scotland, though it can be done and it’s not impossible, it’s do-able.
I tracked down a coach whose methods I agreed with, with a good programme, and I had a list of universities that offer engineering degrees. I then heard, by chance from a student friend, about Virginia Tech. I checked them out, thought, “This looks like the place.” The university people were very forthcoming, and the coach shared my views on how to improve. He’s a serious guy, and very knowledgeable. He has an impressive team record on producing great athletes.
I’d recommend staying open to all avenues on choosing your way forward, when considering colleges, and find out all you can about them. Don’t just hope all will be okay. Find out for yourself.”
Lynne: “That it all worked out so successfully is a tribute to your hard work in researching the universities.”
Having left the Collegiate system, how do you set goals, and what happens if you don’t achieve them?
“I don’t set myself up for particular times or medals. My US coach knew of my aspirations to race back in Scotland and Britain, and we took a three- or four-year view down the line. Coach Thomas had his Collegiate aims, but was always supportive of my goals beyond the Collegiate, for example, me being available to run for GB.”
“US Collegiate athletics is a highly competitive place to learn – a good thing.”
What’s your Coach’s approach to training?[Neil’s training has built up over the years ‘til now, at age 26, he has a challenging weekly schedule incorporating threshold running, track session and hills. Here Neil goes into a rough breakdown of an average week. My notes are incomplete, but details include the following. Remember, this is for an experienced, elite athlete.]
- In winter we might do 80 miles a week, tops.
- Mondays a controlled session based on 1k reps, using heart rate monitor to dictate effort.
- Tuesdays 70 minute run
- Wednesday mornings hills e.g. 3x 1200 m, 3x800m, 3x300m
“I’m not the best on hills, but I like it when I’m not the best in the group, it gives me people to chase.”
- Wednesday afternoons 6 reps on the track. “Two sessions in one day is not for young athletes! It takes years of training to be able to cope with it.”
- Thursdays easy run.
- Fridays a long tempo effort, starting out at six-minute mile pace, then faster.
- Saturdays long run.
- Sundays – day of rest.
“That’s slightly unusual in that most runners will probably take a Friday or a Monday off.”
What is your least favourite session, and your favourite?
“My least favourite session is the long tempo run. Always find that a challenge. My favourite is 6x300m, with each 300 formed from 100m in 14 seconds, the next 100 in 13 seconds, then the third 100 in 12 seconds. It’s about accelerating and changing pace. We do a lot of changing pace within reps, which gets you used to racing, when you have to respond to other runner’s moves, or being able to throw in some switches of pace of your own.
How do you keep motivated during Covid lockdown?
“Well, everything did get different. In Arizona, we still had access to a track and we’re fortunate that endurance training can be done almost anywhere. There’s no need for equipment or facilities.
I stayed eager to train hard and make up ground on people who are better than me. The one-year postponement of the Olympics is a chance to work on perceived weaknesses … for instance, I could not cope with Cheruiyot in the Doha final [Timothy Cheruiyot of Kenya won the World Championships 1500 metres in Qatar in 3:29.26, in October 2019. Neil was 11th in the final in 3:37.72 after 3:36.69 in the Semi-Final and 3:36.31 in the Qualifying Round].
“Lockdown is an opportunity to work on strengths and weaknesses.”
What’s your race day routine?
“I’m not superstitious, I don’t have a perfect meal for pre-race. I’d advise you to eat well normally, eat well all the time. Go for a mix of proteins, carbs, fat. Mashed potato is good.
Race day breakfast might be porridge, peanut butter, fruit, toast, eggs. There will be a 15-minute jog including four or five sets of fast strides, to wake my body up. You have to discover what works for you as an individual.
Lunch might be a turkey and avocado sandwich. It’s all trial and error, figure it out as you go, work out when you should eat and what.
I’d also say that, on race days, try not to fret or worry. Switch off. There’s plenty of time to relax, be natural and don’t focus too hard on the race. Don’t change stuff wildly. Relax.”
Do you get nervous before races?
“I’m less nervous now than when I was young, when every race was important! Experience helps. Nerves can help, they can be a useful tool – they help you find an extra gear. Nerves mean you care, you’re alive, it’s great, I’m getting ready, I want to do well, I know I’m doing sport for good reasons.”
Tell us about race tactics.
“I’ll need to write a book about tactics one day! They differ. In time trials, I try to relax once I’m in a good position [in the bunch of runners]. You only need to be in a good place once. It’s all about timing. Try not to be in an outside lane, you’re running further than necessary. Being out in front can work, at the right pace for you. Try to control your energy.[Neil has said elsewhere that in the Torun 1500 indoor final, he made one mistake – at the very start – then had to spend too much energy trying to get to where he should have been.]
How do you stay motivated during a race?
“When I was younger, during races I’d be asking myself, ‘Why am I doing this? This hurts!” Often, I try to focus on the people at home and in the stand, who want me to do well. I know that if I fight hard, I’ll feel good when I see them.”
What’s the atmosphere like in Torun, where there’s no crowd in the stadium?
“It’s not a big deal, really. When you’re racing it’s a blur anyway. I do like a crowd, though.”
Tell us about recovering after races.
“Sleep is a great recovery engine. But if you’re talking about recovering in the immediate aftermath of races, then I have a 24-hour rule [Neil allows himself 24 hours to feel good after a successful race, or to get upset over a bad performance: after that it’s forget it, either way, you’re back to work.].
“On Friday night I was fuming! [Neil made one mistake right at the start of the 1500 final and ended up 11th having gone into the race as a medal contender.]. I believe I am at the same level as Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Marcin Lewandowski [the pre-race favourites] and I made a mistake. I have to stay sharper on the start line, use the elbows. I was a bit passive, I should have been more authoritative.
I arrived with high hopes and left with disappointment. But there is no time to brood. I have to get ready for my Tokyo attempt [Tokyo Summer Olympics start 23rd July 2021]. I’m taking confidence in feeling in my best-ever condition. That was the worst mistake I’ve made in my 26 years, but I’ll refocus.” [I’d say Neil is already refocused, going by his positive demeanour throughout.]
What advice would you give young athletes and what’s the best advice you’ve had in your career?
The hours around training make a real difference. Work hard in training, have a good attitude to training. Fact is, you don’t get better in training … you’re actually breaking down your body! It’s the other hours that matter, in determining whether the adaptation you’re aiming for in training actually happens. It is those hours that set you apart as the better athlete.
Get ten hours sleep a night. Eat well, eat your vegetables, protein and so on. It all helps your body recover. I eat plenty! When I was young, I couldn’t eat enough. When you burn energy at high levels you have to reload. When I’m at home, the family food bill skyrockets, as my parents will tell you. I’d like to thank my mum for spoiling me when I’m at home, she never gets the credit for all she does.”
What are your plans going forward?
“It’s an Olympic year, so the aim is to be in the Olympic 1500 Final. First step towards that is to make the GB&NI team. Right now, I’ll be heading back to Oregon soon – it’s warmer there, and sunnier!”[Eugene, in the State of Oregon, is known as Tracktown USA, and the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field Stadium will host the World Championships 2022. The talented and charismatic American distance runner Steve Prefontaine* trained and raced in Eugene in the 1970s.]
What’s the Torun Gingerbread Mascot all about? We thought it was a slice of toast.
“Yes, we weren’t sure about the Torun gingerbread man, but it’s a local delicacy apparently. I see my father is requesting gingerbread.”
Lynne: “Thank you Neil, for inspiring everyone with all your efforts, especially in encouraging the kids. It means a lot to us, particularly in the way you conduct yourself. We all were excited to watch the racing. Thank you.”
THANKS ALSO to Lynne for being an expert question-master and to Gerry Duggan, Graham Dunn and Clare Stevenson for seamlessly assembling this international production. Some 42 invitations were accepted, and we estimate about 100 people attended in total. Thank you all for dropping in. See you in Tokyo!
These notes are not comprehensive. They are based on a true event on Sunday 7th March 2021, recorded as a handwritten transcript intended only as reference. The Q&A video was recorded in full and should be available soon. No gingerbread was harmed in the making of these notes. End. CT
*”To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” – Steve Prefontaine, US Olympian.
Thanks as ever to Croy Thomson for this important record for our Club Archives
Neil Gourleyfor his “typically honest, insightful and informative hour’s chat”
To all athletes, parents, coaches and supportersFollowing the First Minister’s announcement to parliament today, we are continuing the process of planning for the return to group training sessions.However, Scottish Athletics has still to receive the relevant information from Sport Scotland which in turn, needs to be advised to the club.
Track bookings have been made but there remain some significant administrative arrangements to be made. We need to clarify the actual group sizes, pre-booking details & attendance registers for Test &Protect purposesThere will be further information from coaches as soon as these details are resolved . Please bear with us as we do this . You can direct any specific further queries to coaches.GNAC
From Croy Thomson
You can still join in. Just Register below
- TO REGISTER click here . Zoom log-in details will be emailed to you soon
NEIL GOURLEY Q&A ON ZOOM ON SUNDAY 6PMREGISTER now
- Neil is taking time out after his European Indoor Championship 1500m Final in Poland to answer questions and chat about his life as a full-time elite international athlete.
- Of interest to all athletes, but particularly youngsters starting on their athletic journey.
- The questions will be asked by former Olympian Lynne Macdougall.
- Want to ask Neil a question? Add your question to the Registration Form.
- TO REGISTER click here . Zoom log-in details will be emailed to you on Saturday
- To give us an idea of numbers attending (and to avoid last-minute disappointment), please REGISTER if you canWe look forward to an informative, insightful and inspirational talk with a young man who came up through the ranks from Under 11 onwards at Giffnock North AC. See you on Sunday. Thanks.
- Neil is taking time out after his European Indoor Championship 1500m Final in Poland to answer questions and chat about his life as a full-time elite international athlete.
- Of interest to all athletes, but particularly youngsters starting on their athletic journey.
- The questions will be asked by former Olympian Lynne Macdougall.
- Want to ask Neil a question? Add your question to the Registration Form.
- TO REGISTER click here . Zoom log-in details will be emailed to you on Saturday afternoon.
- To give us an idea of numbers attending (and to avoid last-minute disappointment), please REGISTER BEFORE NOON ON SATURDAY 6TH.
Update for all Parents Carers Athletes & Supporters
We hope everyone is well and that, despite all the difficulties, athletes have been able to maintain some training during this last lockdown.
Following recent information from Scottish Athletics and a Q&A session with them we are providing the following update
There is no immediate change to training but we expect sessions for Junior athletes to resume soon. Restrictions still apply to all Senior Athletes
12 – 17 year olds are anticipated to be allowed to train from 15 March onwards but we have no specific details yet of group sizes, physical distancing etc. We are planning for a return initially for groups of 8 with 1 coach. Any further changes will be advised as soon as confirmed . We will be looking at risk assessments & re-issuing Covid Guidance for sessions for athletes and parents.
We understand that travel restrictions will still apply and athletes will be unable to travel outwith their local authority area. Therefore we will be organising training sessions for Glasgow athletes in Glasgow and E Ren athletes in E Ren.
We are checking track availability for a proposed return w/c 15 March. At this time we are still unsure whether all tracks will be available as some schools may not be fully open by that date.
Giffnock North has decided that the U11s, while able to train at the moment, will not return immediately and will, therefore, also return w/c 15 March at the same time as the older age groups.
There is no proposed return on this date for athletes aged 18 and over and they should not be taking part in formal sessions. They are allowed to train informally adhering to the household guidelines in force just now, two adults from two different households.
You will hear soon, we hope, regarding arrangements. You can direct any further enquiries to your coach/ coaches
Thanks for your understanding
Stay safe everyone
NEIL GOURLEY races for GB&NI this week at the European Indoor Championships in Torun, Poland. His 1500 heat is tomorrow Thursday 4th at 19:20 GMT. All going to plan the Final is Friday 5th at 20:20. Watch on the BBC Red Button and online. Neil then has two days to get in shape for an EXCLUSIVE ZOOM Q&A with Giffnock North: Sunday 18:00 (max 100 guests, first come first in).
Neil’s form is encouraging: a recent indoor PB of 3: 35.79 seconds puts him third fastest on the start list, behind Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski and Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen. It should be quite a race, so tune in and cheer on our man. Other Scots to look out for: Andy Butchart (3k), Guy Learmonth (800), Beth Dobbin and Zoey Clark (both in 4×400 relay squad)
Neil’s PBs include (from Power of 10):
• 600m 1.19.16
• 800m 1.46.12
• 1500m 3.35.79i (Josh Kerr’s Scottish indoor record is 3:35.72)
• Mile 3.57.11
Neil’s cv includes: World Championship 1500 finalist (Doha 2019, 11th); European U23 medallist (2015 bronze); British 1500 Champion indoors and out; Scottish 1500 and 800 indoor and outdoor Champion (all 2019).
Selected Other Achievements (from Neil’s breakthrough 2018 season, compiled by Ronnie Gourley
• US Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) 800m champion.
• Member of the Virginia Tech National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Distance Medley Relay Championship winning team. (First national track title for VT)
• Athletics World Cup (first senior vest for GB) 3rd place
• IAAF Diamond League Anniversary Games 8th place (Diamond League debut)
• Scottish Athletics 1500m National Champion (1st senior national championship)
• IAAF Diamond League (Emsley Carr Mile) 8th place
• Invitation to compete in the 5th Avenue Mile, NY.
All the very best, Neil, for Torun and beyond, from all at the club. ‘Mon the amber and azure!
Report by Croy Thomson
We’d like to warmly welcome on board Kieren Mooney . Kieren is going to help in the first instance to develop the club social media presence.
One of our Senior Endurance athletes he will be a great asset. Along with his brilliant youthful enthusiasm, he brings a wealth of experience and much needed expertise to the role.
Thanks Kieren ! Great to have you !
International high jumper David Smith talks here about staying sharp and motivated during a demanding year, and shares candid responses along with insightful hints and tips.
David joined Giffnock North as an U11, where his natural bounciness led one coach to describe him as being “like a rubber ball”. Trust a coach to see potential! David is currently coached by Paul Harrison (Birchfield Harriers) with coaches Ken Allan and Fuzz Caan guiding David in his earlier years. Now twice a Commonwealth Games athlete for Scotland, David is also a three-time Scottish National champion and joint holder of the Scottish Native high jump record at 2.25 metres. His PB is 2.26 metres, indoors. As well as proudly competing in Giffnock North’s blue and amber, David jumps for London club Shaftesbury Barnet.
How have you coped with restrictions imposed by Covid?
“I am quite good at putting things into perspective. With Covid I quickly realised there was nothing that I can do to change the situation. I have good days and bad days just like anyone else and that’s okay. I just try to take things day by day. Having training to focus on has definitely helped.”
How is training going in the midst of Covid?
“After the initial outbreak with everything getting cancelled, I decided to keep fit but let my body rest and recover instead of doing an outdoor season. I have been able to train pretty much as normal since October and have had access to an indoor facility in Birmingham. Training has been going well and I’m hoping to do some indoors competitions soon.”
It’s so much harder for High Jumpers and other Field event athletes like yourself. Any training tips and challenges you could share with us?
“Yes, technical events can be very frustrating! With athletes lacking facilities at the moment due to the pandemic, it can seem impossible to train for field events. Although you can’t jump at the moment, it is important to be creative and adapt training. You can still do some of your pop–up drills and you can mark out your run up without needing to have a high jump bed.
When facilities are available again, the best tip I think I can give is not to overcomplicate things, which is a lot harder than it sounds. I have found when I jump it’s better to focus on one technical point and let your body do the rest. Something as simple as keeping tall when running or making sure my first stride is active allows me to execute a really good jump.”
We have a number of young high jumpers. Any special words for them?
“Firstly, to have fun. The reason I do what I do is because I love high jumping. I would also say focus on becoming a good overall balanced athlete.
Try to become a good runner – 90% of high jump is running. Do lots of jumping on both legs and throwing exercises. It will pay off when you get older and have a foundation of different work behind you. Our best female high jumpers tend to be multi-eventers and I think there’s something in that.
Also watch YouTube videos of high jump. Begin to understand the event. Watch the best high jumpers and discuss them with your coach. How do they move? How many strides do they take round the curve? How far away do they take off from the bar?
It’s important to have an idea of what an elite jump should look like and how does that compare to what you’re currently doing?”
You are always pleased, it seems, to wear the Club vest and the Club is very proud of you. Can you say something about that?
“Yes, I am proud to wear the vest. I have competed for Giffnock North since U11. I have come through the ranks and I am now a senior international athlete. I hope when younger athletes see a Giffnock North vest on the tv, they think, ‘I want to do that’, and believe that they can.
What kind of support are you receiving generally and what do you think the club should provide in terms of support to elite athletes like yourself?
“I’m part of the Scottish Institute of Sport. I get physio provided for me which is a great help. I received some financial help from Giffnock North at the beginning of the pandemic which I am really grateful for. At the moment I get no financial support and work part time while trying to be the best athlete I can be.
I feel this is a really hard question and one that I honestly don’t know the answer to. In athletics, the only financial funding for athletes comes from British Athletics and only a limited number of athletes are included on this programme. Therefore, athletes either receive full support or get nothing. There is no middle ground.
I think it would be good if high level senior athletes could receive support from their club to help them to reach the next level – British Athletic funding. It is very difficult to reach this next level when you have to train and work.
Could all British clubs help their athletes who are just below this level to help them reach lottery funding? Or introduce some sort of bonus scheme if athletes make International teams? I don’t know the answer, but it would be brilliant if there was more support for athletes trying to reach that next level. Maybe Giffnock North could be the first club to introduce something and challenge how clubs support their best athletes and create a pathway to lottery funding?”
Can you say anything about your plans for this year? Can you even make any plans?
“I’m training as if everything will run as planned and I am preparing to the best of my ability. If events go ahead, then I will be ready. If not, I will benefit next year from the training I have put in.
I plan to do a few indoor competitions. I won’t have jumped competitively for almost a year. So, it’s important to get used to competing again. If I make the European Indoor Championships then great, but my main focus is the outdoor season and jumping as high as I possibly can. The British Athletics Olympic Qualification standard is 2.29cm and I feel that is something that I can realistically achieve.”
Any message for all the young athletes for 2021 who, like you, have experienced a frustrating dearth of competition?
“All I can really say is to stay strong and things will get back to normal eventually. I know things are really difficult just now in lockdown. Giffnock North is a great club with a strong community and we are all in it together. It would be great to do a high jump session with the jumps group sometime in the future. I am also hopeful that we can have our club awards at the end of the year and be able to celebrate everyone’s amazing performances!”
David Smith: Jumping Through Covid
One of a series, already featuring middle distance runner Erin Wallace and high jumper Nikki Manson. Our thanks to them all for taking time to talk to us, and sharing their responses so openly.
EXCITING NEW FEATURE! Yes, the much-anticipated A to Z of Handy Hints to Help You Get Through This Very Odd Winter.
When The Going Gets Tough: Coping with The Year of Covid
Nikki Manson Scottish Record Holder at High Jump ( Indoor ) takes time to describe her experience these last months under Covid
Every top athlete’s life is full of ups and downs, but seldom like those experienced in 2020. Here, international high jumper Nikki Manson reveals here how she is managing to stay fit and focused in extraordinarily challenging times, giving open, honest, informative and inspirational answers to questions from her home club, Giffnock North AC.
Overall, how have you coped with Covid restrictions?
“I’m not going to lie, initially I found it very tough. I specifically remember having a bit of a breakdown in the car park by the playing fields in Muirend, my sister (a doctor) was working on the frontline in Manchester so training all just felt very trivial. I rallied after a short period and managed to try make the most of what I had locally to train: Glasgow is a very hilly city, so that was a weekly go–to; I managed to find a set of stairs by the train station and Glasgow City physiotherapy very kindly lent me some weights.
After I managed to take the pressure off things, I was able to find a lot of fun in a slightly more “guerrilla” style training. My strength and conditioning coach and boyfriend Sam and I had to be creative and I think we made good progress in areas which perhaps are often sidelined.
Within the sport I think field events (specifically the vertical jumps) have been impacted disproportionately by the pandemic and although I’ve managed to stay fit, strong and fast over the summer, nothing can quite replicate the impact on the legs of a true high jump take off.
All in all, though, I would say I’ve fared as well as most. It’s been a tough year and one I’ll be happy to see the back of.”
How is training going in the midst of Covid?
“While I’m still far away from what my “normal” training week looks like, I’m very thankful that I’ve been able to gain access to a high jump bed, a decent gym and somewhere dry to run and drill. After such a long time away it’s been a steep learning curve getting back to the technical side of things but I’m starting to find a bit of a groove again.
We’re working hard towards some sort of indoor season. There are some areas of my technique which need adjusted and all in all coach Ray (Bobrownicki) has me focusing on a more professionalised approach (getting enough high–quality sleep, diet, psychology etc).
I’m also very lucky to have Stephen Maguire as my performance manager, he’s really teaching me the nitty gritty of what performance truly is.”
How did it feel to take the Scottish HJ record and now to be the holder?
“I think the best part of breaking the record this year was being able to do it at home, it was so nice to share the record with officials, coaches and team mates I‘ve grown up beside. As they say, “It takes a village” and I’m always aware that behind each and every jump is countless hours of support from the wider community.
Hustopece, in the Czech Republic, in February was the scene of an important moment for me personally too, it was my third year competing there and I certainly had some unfinished business to attend to. (Note: Nikki cleared 1.93 metres at the Hustopece Skeskakani meeting, to claim the Scottish record and lead the UK rankings.)
As proud as I am to be the record holder, in some ways I don’t think about it. It’s a truly great accolade but I still feel like I have potential to fulfil.”
You are always pleased, it seems, to wear the club vest and the club is very proud of you. Can you say something about that?
“I think it’s very important to show where you’ve come from. Regardless of where you are in the world, it’s important to know I’m still the same wee Glaswegian girl doing it for the love of the sport.
I also think it’s important to show that, no matter how good you get, at some point we were all those little kids with the nervous tummy on the start line at an indoor league match.
Last year I updated my club vest, thanks to Clare and Ronnie, and I was initially a bit superstitious that my ten-year-old ‘yellow and blue’ held some kind of special quality that enhanced my jumping legs, but thankfully the new one works just as well!”
What kind of support are you receiving generally and what do you think the club should provide in terms of support to elite athletes like yourself?
“I’m very thankful for my job at the GAA – even though it’s not specific support they’re the ideal employer for an athlete like myself.
I’m lucky enough to be on a programme at the Scottish Institute of Sport which helps a lot with access to facilities, and Scottish athletics have helped support travel to some of my competitions over the last few years.
Scott MacAulay and his team at Glasgow City Physiotherapy have also been a big help in keeping me healthy over the years.
In terms of club support I think it’s a difficult question and possibly needs to be done on an individual basis; personally, I think transitioning/emerging athletes need to be supported in identifying and accessing the right competitions for their development stage. Often it can be made much easier to access these competitions if you’re not asking the meeting manager to cover your travel expenses.”
That said, when you’re in the thick of it even just token gestures help a lot; it doesn’t matter how big you get, it still matters to get recognition from your clan!”
Can you say anything about your plans for 2021?
“The big aim is still the Tokyo Olympics and finally taking that Scottish Outdoor record.
Provided things open up enough, I’m just very keen to throw myself into competition, get overseas, compete and experience as much as I can. That said, I’d also like to compete at the Scottish National Outdoor Championships if they can go ahead. It’s one of my favourite competitions of the year and I’ve missed the SAL family a lot.”
Any messages for the athletes of 2021, who, like you, have experienced a frustrating dearth of competition?
“Have fun! Don’t worry about the seasons or opportunities missed due to the pandemic –they’re gone. Enjoy this time as a chance to work on your weaknesses, explore your strengths and find your love of the sport. Don’t rush to the finish, enjoy the process and your time will come.”
Thanks very much Nikki for another great input. Giffnock North AC appreciates this and all you’ve done to give us training tips during Covid restrictions. All the best from all of us for 2021 and beyond.
2020 ? The season that never was ! Even though the athletics calendar was cut short in March due to the pandemic, 10 Giffnock North athletes still manged to claim 14 National titles.
Congratulations to the following athletes who will receive Certificates for outstading achievement, awarded by the club, which will be distribubted as soon as we are able.
Photographs by Bobby Gavin
|u13B||Craig Shennan||Scottish XC Champion||Falkirk|
|u13B||Zander Summerhill||Scottish Indoor Shot Put Champion||Emirates Arena, Glasgow|
|u15B||Daniel Martin||Scottish Indoor Pentathlon Champion||Emirates Arena, Glasgow|
|Scottish Indoor Long Jump Champion||Emirates Arena, Glasgow|
|Scottish Indoor 60m Hurdles Champion||Emirates Arena, Glasgow|
|u15B||Reuben MacDonald||Scottish XC Champion||Falkirk|
|u15G||Hannah Ryding||Scottish XC Champion||Falkirk|
|Scottish Junior RR Champion||Greenock|
|u17B||Harris Paterson||Scottish Indoor 1500m Champion||Emirates Arena, Glasgow|
|Scottish Indoor 3000m Champion||Emirates Arena, Glasgow|
|u17G||Alyson Bell||Scottish Indoor 200m Champion||Emirates Arena, Glasgow|
|u20M||Finlay Waugh||Scottish Indoor 200m Champion||Emirates Arena, Glasgow|
|u20M||Reuben Nairne||Scottish Indoor Pole Vault Champion||Emirates Arena, Glasgow|
|SenW||Nikki Manson||Scottish Indoor High Jump Champion||Emirates Arena, Glasgow|
As many of you will know, in June of 2019, Giffnock North and Great Britain athlete, Luke Traynor, was given a two-year suspension and banned from all competition following a positive test for a recreational drug during a routine out of competition test.
This last week, UK Athletics, following a change in the rules from the World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA), have downgraded his original two-year ban to three months.
The reduction in Luke’s ban has come about from WADA’s decision to significantly reduce its sanctions for illegal drugs that do not have a performance-enhancing effect.
After careful consideration the club felt it was important to comment on this matter in the hope that it serves to educate all our members, and in particular our younger athletes, on the dangers and risks of taking illegal drugs.
While we do not wish to minimise the seriousness of Luke’s mistake, it is important to draw the distinction that Luke was not caught cheating through the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). PEDs are a blight on our sport and rob honest athletes of the chance to realise their full potential. PEDs have no place in athletics or any sport.
Luke has been with the club since 2008 and over the years has regularly assisted in coaching many of our young athletes. Despite him going on to represent Great Britain and compete at the highest levels of the sport, he has continued to come back to the club and make time to work with and inspire our next generation of young athletes.
It was therefore all the more surprising and disappointing when the club learned of this incident.
Luke realises that this uncharacteristic lapse in judgement was an extremely serious matter and has shown real contrition since this matter was brought to light.
When approached, he was keen to speak to the club in the hope that others can learn from his mistake.
“I am relieved that this episode is now behind me and intend to move forward with the lessons learned. This was a life changing mistake and something that I will always carry. I want to take this opportunity to make another apology to those that have supported me at any stage of my career. I understand that this apology will only be meaningful with the correct actions and so I intend to honour this.
Finally, I now wish to make it clear that I intend to return to athletics and try to continue where I left off in a healthy manner.”
Commenting on behalf of the club, Coach, Dudley Walker, said:
“Like everyone in the club, I was obviously bitterly disappointed when I heard the news. I have known and worked with Luke since he was a young boy. Throughout his many years with the club, he has always been a bright, hard-working and dedicated individual, as well as a great teammate and friend to many in the club. Up until this incident Luke was quite simply a model athlete.
“Having spoken to him in the days and weeks that followed the news of his suspension, I have seen first-hand how disappointed and angry he is at himself. He clearly understands how serious and costly a mistake this was, and has had to learn that lesson the hard way.
“I am confident that this was a momentary and uncharacteristic lapse in judgement from an otherwise honest and dedicated athlete. Nonetheless, I hope this situation can serve as a valuable lesson to all our young athletes on the dangers of drug abuse and how even a single mistake can have extremely serious consequences.
“Luke is a young man who has made a serious mistake, but who has also paid an enormous emotional toll. Under the circumstances I feel he deserves a second chance. Following this week’s announcement, I am keen we as a club continue to support him in his return to top flight athletics.”
All the very best to Luke in his renewed quest to realise his talent, from Giffnock North.
While the Festival takes place in early June, the planning begins in December. We delayed the decision to cancel ,but we are unable to carry out the normal organisation which contributes to the success of this very popular and much valued local event in our club calendar
We hope to be able to have it back in place for next season. Keep training and keep safe.
The Board of Giffnock North AC would like to take this opportunity to wish all our athletes, coaches, parents, supporters and all our Committee members best wishes for Christmas and for 2021. This year has been the most difficult year for everyone, but we recognise it’s been especially difficult for many amongst us. From those who have lost loved ones, those having to shield ,to those whose livelihoods have been threatened, all those working in the NHS and all the carers and other essential workers , those who face a doubtful future, those who have had the virus , those who have had to isolate and all the myriad of other problems and issues which the pandemic has wreaked on us all.
We are grateful that as a club we have been able, since August to return to organised training. Nevertheless, we realise that the situation is necessarily fluid and will continue to be so. However, we will continue to follow the advice from the Scottish Government and Scottish Athletics via Sports Scotland. We would also like to put on record our thanks to Jackie Alexander and Sara Lang ,our Club COVID Coordinators who have guided us all the way through this process assisted by our Administrative expert Pauline McKay. Grateful thanks also to all our coaches, stepping up to cover additional sessions, reorganising sessions with the last minute changes needed due to numerous changes in the rules and regulations and being there for the athletes throughout all this time.
Last, and certainly not least, we would like to pay tribute to our athletes. They have responded so well to the difficult circumstances they have encountered. Following training programs remotely and abiding by the rules when organised training resumed, joining in competition opportunities when, and as they could, and coping when these have had to be cancelled. The club recognises that this has been extraordinarily challenging.
We also realise how many hopes and dreams have been dashed due to the lack of competition and the aspirations of, what could have been, for teams and individuals. However, we now look forward, with hope that the rollout of vaccines will lead to a significant improvement in all areas of all our lives.
Thanks to everyone for trying to keep us all safe at training and thanks for all the efforts made by so many to try and maintain our fitness, our physical health and our wellbeing during Covid-19.
See you all in 2021 in the meantime take care and stay safe!
Photos from Junior Sunday Park Training Session 20th December
Virtual Challenge 2
Giffnock North roundup
“Faster, higher, stronger,” goes the Olympic motto. To that maybe let’s add, “Smarter” – technology is helping athletes to compete against each other over the same distance on different days in different places, record and monitor their performances, and rapidly compile, compare and share the results, on a significant scale.
It’s taken a load of ingenuity, patience, communication, trust and effort by volunteers, coaches and officials, and there are flaws in the process, but it can’t be denied that the Lindsays Virtual Challenges have added interest and entertainment to some pretty bleak months. There’s a definite edge, as you go into the last couple of laps of a 3k, say, when you know your age-group rivals will also be posting fast times … never mind that they’re two hundred miles away: every second counts!
The latest edition of the Lindsays Virtual Challenge, held 4th to 7th December, attracted participation from over 70 clubs across Scotland. Giffnock North AC was well to the fore, in quality as well as quantity.
The Total Distance category saw us second behind neighbours Bellahouston Road Runners (435k to 221.5). We took the same place in the Combined Age/Gender Challenge, this time behind Central AC, our best efforts across the various distances adding up to one hour 17 minutes and 49 seconds, thanks to Oliver Bryers, Cameron Deverill, Reuben Macdonald, Cris Walsh and James Leaf.
The age group breakdowns threw up some remarkable stats and performances.
In the 10k Open, Cris Walsh, Andy Macdonald and Jill Smyllie brought us home in fourth overall, with Cris’s effort earning him third in the M45s, and Jill topping the Women’s Masters ladder.
The 5k Open saw Reuben Macdonald, Cameron Green and Iain Carroll in fifth. Iain’s run put him top of the M40 category, and cheers to Rob Crusher, third in the M55s, and Allie Chong second in the W45s. Not many Under 17s ran the 5k, so hats off to Reuben for his 15:54 and Cameron for the 16:01. Big shout out too to U17 Girl Charlie Frew for her fine 18:25.
In the 3k, Cameron Deverill, Craig Shennan and Alex Robin gave us another team second behind Central AC. Cameron was third individual out of 151 entrants (and top Under 17 male) over this distance and we had four in the top 13, including an outstanding nine minutes 31 second clocking from Alasdair Nugent.
Anji Carson’s 13 minutes 24 seconds posting gave her sixth in the 3k Women’s Masters. The 3k provided a happy hunting ground for our U17 Girls: we placed six in the top nine in the age group:
1, 2, 3 were Hannah Ryding, Valencia Wright and Kate Paul, all under 11 minutes, then fifth, seventh and ninth were Zoe Flower, Isla Scott and Kirsten O’Donoghue, all under 12 minutes.
The U15 Girls ran nine girls into the top 25, with Katy Donnelly, Millie MacFarlane, Ella Youngs, Ruth Walsh and Hazel O’Donoghue all under 12 minutes.
The 1500m Challenge saw Freya Campbell top the U13 Girls listings with her five minutes seven seconds effort, backed by Lauren McPherson third and Sarah McNulty fourth. The U13 boys over the same distance packed six into the top nine places, with Oliver Bryers third overall (four minutes 48 seconds), followed closely by Thomas Reay, Calum Dick, Lewis Davidson, Tristan Robin, Patrick Fraser, Charlie McAllister and Matt Shaw.
Never ones to be left out, the Under 11s also contributed to the excitement. Logan McNulty clocked a splendid five minutes 18 second 1500 metres time to claim second on the listings, with Finlay Laskey only five ticks behind. Holly Simpson and Nicole Yates were top class sixth and seventh U11 Girls in five minutes 48 seconds and five minutes 49 respectively.
Apologies to those unmentioned, the internet isn’t big enough to include you all. Huge applause and respect to all who turned out and participated so enthusiastically in making the Challenges possible. We are more than a club, and athletics is more than a sport.
It’s never going to replace the real thing, and the results are indicative rather than comprehensive, but the Lindsays Virtual Challenges are surely to be praised and supported for their enterprising approach, their scope and the focus they have provided. The markers put down in times will be used for selections in upcoming races – fingers crossed we salvage some races in the Spring – so we still have a structure in place that provides incentives and encouragement.
PS Only in the writing of this did I discover that the word ‘smart’ used in the technological sense derives from ‘Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology’. And here was me thinking it was Several Miles of Agonised Road and Track. Every day a school day.
Full results: https://salicence.sportserve.net/useruploads/eventinfo/11600-RoadChalII%20Full%20Results.pdf
Thanks to Croy Thomson for this report !
The next virtual challenge for Endurance is scheduled for early January . More information will be made available by coaches as initial arrangements will have to be changed as a result of our return to Tier 4 Regulations after Boxing Day
When she toed the starting line in the Kelvin Hall on the 13th of December 2009 who’d have thought Erin would be where she is today. Her club debut was at an indoor league match in a 600m race in a time of 2:12.18, in third place behind Holly Little from COGVP.
From that day Erin’s progress has been remarkable as she divided her time between triathlon and athletics. Coming through the age groups at the club saw her be part of an exceptionally talented group of young female athletes who shared numerous team title wins. Athletes including Danielle Kelly, Nikki Miller, Rebecca Metcalfe, Sarah Eunson and Holly Still all joined forces with Erin to sweep the boards in competition in Scotland and beyond.
Erin’s individual improvement has been relentless, seeing her take so many titles and break numerous age group records. Have a look at the Power of 10 link below to get an idea of her achievements. Having stepped away from triathlon to focus on athletics, Erin joined Jemma Reekie and Laura Muir in Andy Young’s elite training group in 2019 but remains very much a Giffnock North athlete, and continues to wear the amber and gold colours with pride.
Clare Stevenson recently spoke to Erin and completed the following Q& A with her. Thanks to Erin, who despite her busy schedule has taken time out to give us a flavour of what she’s been up to and her plans for the future.
Q&A with Erin Wallace
Q: How is the pandemic impacting on your life as an athlete and student?
“At the beginning of the pandemic, I took lockdown and competition cancellation as a positive thing. Since switching to full-time athletics I have struggled with injuries in the past year or so, so with no competitions or pressure to get back into heavy training, I took time to build up my sessions and mileage before competition resumes again.
Recently, especially with return to university and the winter months, it has been more of a struggle, and with restrictions going on and off everything has been a bit uncertain, but it is nice to see light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine.”
Q: What does the Olympic Academy means to you?
“It is really nice to be recognised and invited onto such an important pathway and it gives me more confidence going into the future.”
Q: How is training going in the midst of COVID?
“It hasn’t been too bad- despite access to track, gyms and pools etc being a bit all over the place. I think athletics is a good sport to be in, especially long distance running because a lot of training can be done in parks and streets. My training group is lucky that we have managed to get a few weeks at altitude in South Africa before Christmas. I am lucky to still be able to access some sports facilities despite the lockdown through the Institute of Sport and I have been training hard the whole time- so hopefully it pays off next season.”
Q: How are you dealing with academic demands as well as training?
“This year uni has been online so it hasn’t been too bad as I can fit my lectures in around training. Other years, I have just worked out what training I need to do and how much studying/academic work I have to do in order to feel ready for exams. It is easier to plan ahead if you know what coursework/training you will have to do.”
Q: Can you say anything about your plans for next year?
“European U23 Championships will hopefully go ahead in July 2021 and that is my main goal for the year. They’re to be hosted in Bergen, Norway, which is apparently the rainiest city in western Europe – should suit a Glasgow girl perfectly.”
Q: Any message for all the athletes for 2021 who, like you, have experienced a frustrating dearth of competition?
“I think it is important to remember that competition will return at some point and although it seems unlikely to be soon, when it does it’ll come around quite fast. Try to be ready.”
All the best, Erin, from all at the club, and here’s to a fit, fast and healthy 2021.
Check out Erin’s Power of 10 profile here: Athlete Profile (thepowerof10.info)
Pictures show Erin with her training squad in South Africa. You may recognise one or two of the other athletes. It has been impossible to verify if Erin’s training includes outrunning hungry cheetahs. No cheetahs were prepared to answer the question.
This year the Club AGM will be held on Wednesday 25th November at 7.30pm and given the current circumstances regarding Covid-19, It will be conducted via Zoom. Only members of the club including parent members will be allowed to join the call. All relevant documentation and papers for the AGM will be sent to the members for reading & printing off in the next week.
Those who wish to attend the meeting or submit any motions should indicate their desire to do so by emailing the secretary Yvonne McNairn – email@example.com by 13th November at the latest .
GNAC Club secretary
Bill had a lifelong interest in sports but came to running relatively late. He originally joined the club in the late 1990s while working at Glasgow University and returned to the club in 2009 after a number of years working overseas.
In his early sixties, Bill decided to try his hand at triathlon. There was soon no stopping him and he progressed to competing in the European and World Triathlon championships, representing Ireland in the “vintage” age group.
Bill was running with the club as recently as 18 months ago until his diagnosis and remained a regular parkrunner until February this year, completing 224 parkruns in total. While his later runs took him over twice as long as his earlier runs they were all the more impressive for that.
Bill had a varied career as an academic, latterly as Professor of Financial Analysis at Edinburgh University, and loved travel which provided him with a fund of good stories. He was always interesting and entertaining company, encouraging of his fellow athletes but also determined, where possible, to outrun them!
He will be much missed by his friends at the club.
Our thoughts are with Bill’s wife and fellow senior endurance member Sue. We hope to welcome Sue back into the fold once it is possible for us to run as a group once again.
From Giffnock North AC:
Often, it was the voice you noticed first, loud and clear across the cross-country courses and the stadiums: “COME ON, DANIELLE!” Michelle would be right there, rain or shine, in support of her children, Danielle and Dylan, spurring them on, not accepting less than 100%, but always supportive with a smile, a laugh and a hug at the finish line, no matter what.
Michelle had the heart, warmth, optimism and generosity to forever spread the support and encouragement around, to other young athletes who needed a positive word, or a lift (in morale as well as the car). She contributed further by coaching for a while, and is fondly thought of by the youngsters in her group, for the steps up she helped them take. She was a pleasure to be with, easy for other coaches to chat to, always willing to help whenever she could.
With Michelle on the team, you were never beaten, you were just on the road to more fun, more adventures, more achievements.
Our deepest condolences go to her husband Marcus, Danielle and Dylan.
From Danielle Kelly, with her permission:
“My beautiful mum slipped painlessly away early this afternoon. She was unsurprisingly strong and incredibly brave throughout, and I hope it brings some comfort to know how at peace and unafraid she was. My mum is my best friend, my athletics binging buddy and the person who believed I could achieve things I never thought I could. I was her shadow. The loss of such an extraordinary person leaves behind a hole which is indescribable, but this pain helps remind us of the unconditional love felt for my mum and the love she gave in return. My brother and I feel so lucky to have had such a loving bond with our mum, we were so close knit it was a struggle to be apart. The love between my mum and dad was like that seen within cheesy rom com movies, they were constantly laughing and winding each other up, undeniable icky soulmates. My mum has had such a large impact on so many lives, through the work that she loved and through athletics. Her cheerful personality could brighten even the darkest of days, and her loud motivation could be heard in the biggest fields. Although our time together was cut so unfairly short the memories created, lessons learned and hugs squeezed in show that not one minute was wasted. As sad as we are, I hope to live by her beautiful words and “Always find time to squeeze in a smile”, and I hope others can too. Until we can laugh together again, we love you mum and thank you.”
An amazing tribute from Danielle Kelly. It painted the picture of the Michelle that we at Giffnock North all recognise and loved Thank you Danielle.
And Croy Thomson
Report from Russell Whittington
At 9.30 on Sunday 4th October Crispin Walsh, Shona Donnelly and I set off from Clarkston Toll, supported by Gordon Goldie from Bellahouston Roadrunners on his bike, to run the VirtualLondon Marathon around Glasgow. Without the routine of Giffnock North training my fitness levels have dropped off significantly so I was looking for something to focus on to get training back on track (or road or cross country). On top of that I had originally signed up to run the London Marathon in April and raise funds for a Fetal Scanner Appeal that my employers Barclays were promoting. When the London Marathon was cancelled and replaced by the Virtual London Marathon it gave me the opportunity to cover both of these goals.
After a very rainy Saturday the weather was much improved so we were all set for a run in decent weather conditions. The route had been planned in advance by Gordon and he was at each checkpoint to take photos and remind us where we were going next.
The first checkpoint was Migo Sports and from there we headed down to Hampden Stadium. After our photo stop we ran anti clockwise around the outside of the stadium and up our first uphill section. From there we headed back towards the city centre, over the Clyde and into Glasgow Green and then out to the Emirates Arena and Celtic Park.
From there we headed back down London Road into the city centre to my favourite gig venue The Barrowlands. We then worked our way through the Sunday morning shoppers to get to George Square to have a photograph in front of the City Chambers before hitting the West End. At the University Café Crispin and I couldn’t resist taking a seat for a quick rest before heading through the Clyde Tunnel to get us back in the South Side.
The south side section of the run took us through Govan, past Ibrox Stadium, round Bellahouston Park. At the monument in Bellahouston Park we were cheered on by another Giffnock North runner Graeme Patterson with his wife Chi and son Joseph with some colourful signs saying Go Cris and Rocket Russ. I have been assured that the rocket was referring to speed rather than the other Scottish meaning of the word rocket.
Our final section of the run took us back over the Clyde via the Science Centre, the SECC, The Hydro and the Finnieston Crane and then along the river for a finish back at West Brewery in Glasgow Green where we met up with our families and had some lunch and a beer.
I am looking forward to getting back into full training and doing the real London Marathon, but planning and running a Virtual London Marathon in my home city with good friends has been a fun and rewarding experience.
I am also pleased to say that we have raised £1282 towards the Scanner Appeal which will be matched by Barclays. If anyone else would like to add to that the link is attached below:-https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Russell-Whittington
Thanks Russell for this report and well done to all the virtual marathoners and runners on Sunday !
Great news today that we have now been shortlisted with 4 Nominations for the Club for the Scottish Athletics Awards with Alyson Bell nominated in the category for U17 Athlete Performance of the Year
Off Track Club of The Year
U17 Performance Athlete of the Year : Alyson Bell
Development coach of the Year : Billy Glasgow
Official of the Year : Doleen Galbraith
As we know, in this challenging year of 2020, the Awards Night will be a virtual event which is a great pity for all those nominated as we would all have preferred to have seen them attending the normal celebrations. However, we will need to find some way of maximising our participation and involvement to mark the successes which come with being shortlisted in all these categories. Congratulations to all our nominees. Watch this space. We can all join on You Tube on Saturday evening with Bryan Burnett hosting
On a glorious sunny September weekend, the mountain goats of the land set off for Comrie in search of ascent. And that they found. Beginning at Comrie Croft; runners ascended 786m to the top of Carn Chois where the finish line waited above a cloud inversion and stunning views of Comrie for miles around. 12k and 2,500ft of ascent made for a glorious day in the hills for the Giffnock North Trio, Rhona Mowat, Yvonne McNairn and Allie Chong.
To top it off, the girls came home with a Bronze medal (after a quick recalculation of the results by our very own Allie Chong) behind two young whippet teams from Edinburgh Uni Hares and Hounds. Placing 14, 16 and 17, the girls finished ahead of Carnethy Hill Runners to claim the third place.
Allie Chong also bagged the Silver V40 prize! Well done Allie!
Well done all!
A great report from a rare 2020 competition !!!Thanks Yvonne !
Club has been shortlisted in two categories for the 2020 Scottish Athletics Annual Awards.This will be held virtually [in this weird and very challenging year for the whole planet]
Dudley Walker, Coach was delighted to see Giffnock North shortlisted again for Off Track Club of the Year “.The growing strengths in our Senior Women ranks and the beginning signs of an improved retention rate of young Junior Athletes U20s both Male and Female has made a significant contribution to this as well as the strength and depth within the Junior Ranks.”
The Club were also delighted to see Billy Glasgow, Sprints Coach, shortlisted in the Development Coach of the Year Category. Billy over the years has concentrated on the Sprints Development Squads in the club He has not often been able to support the individual success of talented young athletes as we have witnessed this year with his coach input to Alyson Bell. He would be very quick to point out that it is Alyson’s own talent, dedication, committment and attitude to training which earned her a place at the Senior British Champs this year in Manchester. This is in addition to her collection of Scottish Age groups records. We concur with that perspective but would also highlight the crucial support of Billy as her coach, Alyson’s family’s input and her training group who have also contributed to her success.
Congratulations to all the club members who have contributed to these shortlistings . Look out for more announcements of the results.
Advance notice of Seminar on Female Athletes & Menstruation. Will be held via Zoom .
Date for the Diary Wed 23rd September at 7.00pm
This event is for Junior Female Athletes from U13 to U23s
” Lynne MacDougall will be hosting this event along with Allie Chong and our own Erin Wallace. This is a very welcome opportunity to discuss Periods , Implications for Athletes & the impact on Training & Competition. We will have a great input from Erin as to how she has managed this as an elite athlete.
Emails with details as to how to sign up for the event will be coming soon. So this is advance notice so that you can make time available . This is a crucial subject for all Junior female athletes.
Wednesday 23 September at 7pm
THREE COUNTRIES, TWO WEEKS, ONE PB. Giffnock North’s very own Erin Wallace put in another battling performance last night in wet, blustery and thoroughly unhelpful conditions, racing to a hard-earned second place at the BMC Gold Standard 1500m event in Stretford, Manchester. Poised in third at the bell, Erin moved up a gear and a place down the back straight, but couldn’t catch Aldershot’s Amy Griffiths, who stopped the clock at 4:13.48. Erin’s 4:16.94 marks her third strong effort over the metric mile in 14 days, complementing a new PB of 4:12.57 (Bydgoszcz, Poland, 19th August) and 4:16.74 (Turku, Finland, 11th August).
Well done, Erin, it’s good to see the amber and royal blue vest at big meets … but where are the blue shorts?!
Report by Croy Thomson
Thanks to Croy Thomson
Following on from Alyson’s very successful season as a first year under 17, winning a total of seven National & School titles she got off to a great start in her second year by picking up another 3 National & School titles indoors and she broke the Scottish record for the 60m indoors in a new time of 7.57. Needless to say her achievements have not gone un-noticed and they have earned her an invite, which she has gratefully accepted to compete in the 100m at the Müller British Athletics Championships at Manchester Regional Arena on 4th and 5th September 2020.
Other Giffnock athletes invited to the championhsips are Erin Wallace, Neil Gourley and Nikki Manson. Good luck to all.
Our club has, over the years, been involved in various discussions/plans/ideas/possibilities to improve and develop facilities for the Club. As yet we’ve not been able to bring anything to fruition – a source of frustration to many of us as one of the largest Athletics clubs in Scotland
Following a decision of the AGM we have set up a Facilities Committee to lead the discussion and outline a plan for future facilities for Giffnock North. The Committee is established and has met, although it would be fair to say that it’s work has been adversely affected as everything else by COVID-19.
The committee membership is as below:Ronnie Gourley – Chair
Ian McMoneagle – Club Treasurer and Trustee
John Davie – Coach Jumps
Rob Crusher – Senior Endurance Club Member, Parent and board member of East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure Trust.
Lesley Campbell – Parent with interest in Junior Endurance and Sprints
Stephen Gourlay – Coach and Parent , Sprints & Hurdles
Clare Stevenson – Coach U11s and TrusteeRonnie is a former coach at the Club Has a background in Education and Local Authority Sports Development as well as Rugby Club Development. He is also a Member of Scottish Athletics Track and Field Commission and, of course, is Neil Gourley’s dad.The Committee will undertake this work liaising with partners and reporting back to the Board.This is the start of this journey and we are posting this statement to advise our Athletes, Coaches, Officials, Parents and Supporters. There will be a more formal consultation within the club at a later stage but in the meantime anyone who wishes to put forward any ideas or suggestions to the committee at this initial stage is very welcome to contribute. Please feel free to email either Ronnie Gourley at firstname.lastname@example.org ,Ian McMoneagle at email@example.com or Clare Stevenson at firstname.lastname@example.org
We hope all our athletes, coaches, parents, families, officials & supporters are well.
All members will have today recieved the email from Colin Hutchison Head of Development at Scottish Athletics outlining the guidance for Club Athletes etc following the introduction of Phase 1 Easing of Lockdown Restrictions announced today .
We are all hoping and looking forward hopefully to the continued easing of the restrictions over the next period of weeks . Phase 1 is obviously limited. The Coaches Committee will be convened asap to discuss the implications and consider how we go forward in the club. This will be then cascaded to all coaches and then to athletes .
The full guidance is attached with links to the proposed Exit Plan Framework and the refinements which will be agreed at each stage.
Any queries in the meantime please raise with your coach.
Please forgive the few omissions – there are one or two, sorry -We’ll try and sort that when we can
Many thanks to all the Coaches, our great Young Coaches here and also our invaluable Parent Helpers who have contributed and continue to co-operatively construct our competitive , compassionate, confident and collaborative club !!
Collage courtesy of Yvonne McNairn
Subtitles & Alliteration courtesy of Croy Thomson.
Club members, some anyway, may have been surprised to see the name of Grant Muir featuring near the top of the Scottish Athletics Leaderboard for the recent Virtual Mile.
Grant – an outstanding athlete* and contemporary, club-mate, school-mate and friend of Neil Gourley, is currently in Australia. He sent us this recent update from his base there.
See post below / listen here: http://hyperurl.co/lba26u
Alistair by his long term running buddy, Bernie Campbell
I was introduced to Alistair on the start line of one of the Glasgow Marathons in the early eighties by Dr.Ian Kerr who was also to become another GN stalwart. Ian suggested that we should be aiming for a Sub 3 and that we were well suited for such an attempt despite both of us having only ever competed in one previous Marathon – needless to say we failed. This was to be the start of a friendship which lasted decades and when all three of us joined at the inauguration of Giffnock North it taught us what real training was all about.
Alistair immersed himself in Running which apart from his golf seemed to be his main focus in life. He often said to me that he had wished he’d discovered the Sport earlier given that he started Running at the age of 46. He and I were into using Heart monitors as a means of control both in training & competition and with an age difference of exactly 10 years it was easy to keep an eye on our predetermined training bands.
Ever helpful, he was a constant at our Festival of Running both as a Timekeeper and Course measurer and always had time to chat with anyone – I could tell some great stories of his chance meetings with fellow runners.
A prolific trainer he was used to success which came in his various age categories both at Local, National & International level. – World bronze Marathon medal with the UK Vets Team, individual European half Marathon medal, British Vets Champion (twice) and age category winner of numerous Races including three times at the Dublin Marathon.
He was one of a group invited to take part in a study, at the Victoria Infirmary, as to why Scotland had a high percentage of ‘Running’ Septuagenarians.
After the loss of his wife, Betty, he struggled to cope and subsequently ended up in care were he passed yesterday.
A real Gentleman in the true sense of the word – it was a privilege to know you and to call you my friend.
Glasgow City Physiotherapy has developed an online Training Camp and is offering this to Giffnock athletes at a discount cost of £25
Several of our leading athletes involved as you can read below
“Glasgow City Physiotherapy who help keep some of Scotland’s top athletes heathy have put together an online running camp to help level up your running during lockdown!
The ten day camp will address all areas of running performance with sessions focussing on mobility, S&C, psychology, diet and meal preparation, injury prevention as well as elite athlete Q&As.
With a special club discount, GCP are offering this camp to members of Giffnock North for the price of £25 with the code Nikki-Neil (please add this to the notes section of the booking).
It’s a great way to keep your running on track during these uncertain times!
Bookings at the link below
Message to all Parents and Athletes re Membership Fees.
Due to COVID -19 we suspended Club Fees until further notice. Some fees are still being paid by Standing Order. This is despite the move for Junior Athletes to our new membership system, LoveAdmin, where fee payments are by Direct Debit.
Can we ask parents of Junior Athletes to check for the various emails we previously sent re the transfer from Standing Orders to DD.
Can you now please cancel Standing Orders which are still currently in place and follow the direction to pay by DD when training can resume.
Senior Membership fees will also be requested via LoveAdmin and by Direct Debit when training resumes.
Stay Safe . Keep well everyone.
Message from Billy Glasgow GNAC Chairman