The Lindsays Trophy and more. Nice way to emerge from a pandemic!
The club is honoured to put its name on not one, not two, but three of the most-coveted Scottish cross-country trophies: the Lindsays (most finishers across National, Short Course and Relays); the Pat Spence (lowest aggregate points total by female athletes at the National XC); and the AT Mays (lowest aggregate points by males at National XC). Cool runnings indeed!
THREE IN A ROW
That’s three years in a row we’ve earned the Lindsays, only the second time we’ve landed the AT Mays and the seventh win for the ladies in the Pat Spence competition. Well done everyone who turned out to race and grace the occasions.
To collect these trophies (and no less than 18 junior team titles on our way through the winter – six West District XC, six National RR and the ‘sensational’ six at the National XC), has to be an indicator of much more than quantity. The silverware represents reward for quality, and not just in the racing – which was terrific, from juniors through seniors, masters and vets – but also in organisation, dedication and optimism from every part of the club: officials, coaches, stewards, volunteers, committees, administrators, parents and families.
LOOK BACK IN AMAZEMENT
We mustn’t forget we have persevered through a global pandemic and a year of hardly any competition and then a vastly reduced card of options for competition. So, let’s take the opportunity for a quick look back (okay, we tell our runners, “Never look back,” but just this once).
How did we keep the bar high, and raise it higher, in such demanding circumstances? Recognition must go to that diehard of distance, Dudley Walker, who has contributed some 25 years’ coaching the Junior Endurance squads, and to Lynne Macdougall, who joined us not so long ago from Garscube and has, along with Dudley, been tireless in drawing up junior annual training plans geared to short, mid and long-term progress. Bernie Campbell, as ever, has piloted the seniors and vets through tough times.
“I’M NOT MISSING A SESSION!”
Duncan Robertson’s administrative work helped give us a steady framework; we developed a coaching structure at each squad and age group level within the endurance section of the club, with dedicated Lead Coaches and many other coaches, some new, stepping up to the mark and taking responsibility for the individual squads. This solidified during COVID with the necessity for the creation of smaller classes (throughout the entire club) to meet the safe coach-to-athlete ratios required by the Scottish Government, Sports Scotland and scottishathletics.
Keeping everyone safe from the virus became a top priority, but then so was the need for some, any, kind of social interaction. One young athlete told a coach, who’d asked her to rest a niggling injury, “I’m not missing a session! It’s the only time I get out all week!” Everyone’s efforts were achieving more than physical fitness.
When lockdowns came to an end, we pressed on with planning and providing sessions for our athletes. We could only have done this with the unstinting support and patience of our joint COVID Coordinators Jackie Alexander, Sara Lang and the team at scottishathletics. Seemingly endless changes in rules and levels of operation were adhered to, across and within various Local Authority boundaries (Linn Park is in Glasgow, who knew?).
You name it, whatever the complication or stipulation, we did our best to roll with it and we persevered, and squad training carried on whenever and wherever possible. Round of applause here for the youngsters, who co-operated and got on with it in a manner as mindful as it was joyful to watch. (It might be worth noting that many athletes during that period posted exceptional performances despite – or maybe because of – the absence of competition. Food for thought.)
TECH IT OUT
During lockdowns, technology came into its own. Virtual races were organised, athletes were in receipt of training plans they could follow by themselves or in the case of very young athletes with parental support. Communication and social contact were maintained via Zoom with excellent quizzes devised by Dudley and also by teams of our young athletes. Athletes Francesca Davidson, Jill Carswell, Andrew Robertson, Matthew Cox and Eoghan O’Donnell were to the fore in contributing to these highly enjoyable sessions, cementing contact, combatting isolation and contributing significantly to strong morale and camaraderie throughout the pandemic.
We had no end of parents expressing their appreciation of our efforts in maximising opportunities for physical activity outdoors when indoor sports were severely curtailed and young people and their education was particularly hit by school restrictions. If you’ve ever wondered about the value of sport, then the last two years or so have been enlightening.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
We like to move forward in all that we do. We shall continue to work hard at retaining athletes up through the age groups as well as attracting new talent to Giffnock North AC, to run, jump, throw, compete, coach, administer and officiate.
Maybe in the future more athletes will follow in the spike tracks of the club’s current internationals, such as Neil Gourley (just the other day racing to sixth in the Scottish all-time 1500m list with 3:34.85) Erin Wallace, Hamish Armitt and Duncan Robinson.
There’s more to the club than distance runners, of course, so let’s hear it for – among many others – high jumpers David Smith and Nikki Manson (Scottish all-time record holder); sprinters Kyle Alexander (latest 400m PB 47.69) Alyson Bell (recent Scottish U20 100m record 11.58), Rachel Callan (recent GB Junior 400m hurdles select) and Adam Clayton (burning up tracks in the USA); long jumper Alessandro Schenini, pole vaulter Reuben Nairne and multi-eventer Murray Fotheringham. All breaking into elite level having come through these testing times. Hats off to their coaches, including Billy Glasgow and Ryan McAllister.
Whatever the ability, all who come along will meet with a warm welcome, an ever-bigger locker of knowledge and the positivity and energy that have carried us through the pandemic and beyond.
If we’ve missed anyone who deserves a special mention, apologies, but really this is a tribute to everyone who stepped up, stayed two lanes apart, sanitised their hands time after time, and looked after one another. Team effort.
Those three trophies are hard-won and deeply appreciated, and we’ll defend them proudly, but, y’know, we’d be satisfied with the joy of the chase! That’s what gets us where we want to be. Onwards.
Report by Croy Thomson & Clare Stevenson
Many thanks to Bobby Gavin for the fantastic photos