Ask the casual sports fan to name a McColgan and many might say Liz, the former Olympic, World and Commonwealth medalist. But now it’s her daughter, Eilish, who has taken the baton – and British women’s long distance running by storm.
Before 2022, no woman in history had recorded more than two sub-31-minute 10,000m track performances in a calendar year; McColgan junior clocked her fourth on Monday.
In finishing second at the European Championships in Munich, McColgan added a second silver medal of the year to her Commonwealth Games gold in the same distance.
Year of McColgan
It has been a remarkable season for the Dundee-born 31-year-old, who has set personal bests in the 10,000m on the track as well as 5km, 10km and half marathon on the road.
Her first outdoor major medal came in the same country as her latest, when McColgan won a silver in the 5,000m in Berlin in 2018.
It was a four-year hiatus without major success thereafter until this year, when she smashed Paula Radcliffe’s 19-year-old 10km record by two seconds and beat her mother’s Scottish record in June of this year.
At the World Championships in Oregon this summer, her first major meet of the season, McColgan came in 10th at the 10,000m and 11th in the 5,000m.
It looked as if the solid preparation had failed on the biggest stage of the year. But this season’s summer schedule has been packed and it was at the Commonwealth Games where the Scot shone the brightest.
In front of 30,000 roaring fans, McColgan stayed with Kenyan Irine Cheptai for 30 minutes of the race before surging with 200m to go. A raucous crowd adored the audacity to kick from so far out but McColgan didn’t look back and took the title her mum won 30 years ago.
It was to mark a new era for women’s long distance running in Britain. Gone were the days of harking back to the successes of McColgan senior on the track and Radcliffe on the road.
It became about the here and now, about Eilish.
She then netted a silver at the same games before coming home second in Munich this week. From a period of four years claiming one outdoor medal, McColgan had won three inside a season – including her first gold.
And her race has not yet been run this year: the 31-year-old is due to appear in tomorrow’s 5,000m European final – meaning she will have competed in a treble double this summer – and has already been registered for this autumn’s London Marathon.
McColgan is yet to make the list of the 10 fastest British women to run the 26.2-mile distance, but her national record at the half-distance offers some promise.
Radcliffe’s 2:15.25 sits nearly eight minutes ahead of the next fastest time. Three of the top 10 – Jess Piasecki, third, Charlotte Perdue, fourth, and Steph Davis, ninth – all occurred in 2019, while eighth placed Liz McColgan set her 2:26.52 time back in 1997.
McColgan is having a dream season and has pushed on in a sport that Britain has generally seemingly fallen back in. She’s the poster girl of British long-distance and there’s no reason to doubt that she’ll continue to challenge at the head of the pack.