OLYMPICS star Eilish McColgan has passed on her advice and encouragement to future track and field stars.

The long-distance runner visited Meadowmill and spoke to members of Team East Lothian about her experiences on the track and what it takes to reach the very top.

McColgan was joined by Colin Hutchison, chief executive of scottishathletics, just two days after her half marathon debut in Newcastle.

The conversation started with the 30-year-old discussing how she found her first ever half marathon race, in which she finished a close second, only six seconds behind one of the greatest over that distance – Hellen Obiri.

Her time was 67m48s, the third fastest for a female British athlete of all time and the fastest debut half marathon by a Brit in history.

Not giving in was a message that she reiterated throughout the evening to the youngsters.

She said as a junior that she “wasn’t breaking any junior records, wearing a GB vest or even getting PBs sometimes”, but that she “loved the sport” and thought that the best thing to do was to “stick at it” and hoped that eventually she would see the results.

She did get world-class advice from her mum and coach, Liz McColgan, who was very much of the opinion that it did not matter so much how she was getting on as a junior athlete; it was performance as a senior that counted.

Eilish loved training with her club Dundee Hawkhill Harriers and went along to the club three nights a week to participate in lots of disciplines, including the javelin, cross country and the 800m, before eventually settling on the longer track distances and focusing on training geared towards an endurance athlete.

East Lothian Courier: Eilish McColgan stopped off at Meadowmill to visit Team East LothianEilish McColgan stopped off at Meadowmill to visit Team East Lothian

Moving on to the Tokyo Olympics, where McColgan competed in the 5,000m and 10,000m, she was asked how she had enjoyed the whole experience.

She said that it was a very different Games, with restrictions because of Covid-19, nothing like London 2012, when the crowd in the stadium could be heard for miles; however, it was an accomplishment in itself that the games could be held at all and delivered safely.

She said: “I think everyone was thrilled – not just across athletics but across all the events – to see something of this scale take place at all.”

The 5,000m did not go her way, with McColgan being repeatedly clipped on the track and then actually going over on her ankle with 600m to go.

After the 5,000m, she was initially disheartened and did not think she would make the start line of the 10,000m.

However, after spending some time with fellow Scots Laura Muir and Jemma Reekie, McColgan got her head back in the game and focused on doing everything she could to ensure she made that start line.

The time she ran was only a few seconds off the British record, which she set herself earlier this year, and, considering what she had been through in the 5,000m, she was delighted to have overcome the challenge and got back out there on the world stage.

When asked about her greatest achievements, she pointed to breaking the British record, set by Paula Radcliffe, for the 5,000m at the Diamond League event in Oslo, in a time of 14m28.55s – a record that had stood for 17 years.

McColgan spoke at length about advice for the young athletes and what they could do to make sure they gave themselves the best chance of being as good as they could be and, importantly, having lots of fun along the way.

Her pearls of wisdom for young athletes were:

l Tenacity – stick at it. How you do as a junior doesn’t matter, it is how you do as a senior that counts;

l Perseverance – it takes a long time to get success. “I didn’t get my first GB vest until I was 20 years old”;

l Sleep – get as much as you can. “I get a minimum of eight hours, sometimes more, and my boyfriend thinks I have died”;

l Nourishment – don’t stress about eating anything specifically. “I don’t live on salads all day – I use up a lot of calories so it’s important to have enough food to refuel. I eat Lindt chocolate every single day”;

l Friends and fun – “buddy up for your long, hard training runs in the cold Scottish weather. I had a great social life at Dundee Hawkhill. I just loved it.”

As for when the more serious competition comes along, her overriding message was that it’s not about the finishing position, it’s about preparing as best as possible and doing everything to compete as well as possible on the day.

When asked about future plans, McColgan said that 2022 was going to be a packed agenda.

She has the World Championships, the European Championships and will be a proud Scot at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

She has not sorted her schedule yet but will be looking at either the 3,000m or the 5,000m in those events.

And as for the Paris Olympic Games, only three years from now, she has her eyes set on the marathon, which would be a natural progression for an endurance athlete – particularly natural for one whose mum, Liz McColgan, was marathon winner in London, New York and Tokyo.

A spokeswoman for Team East Lothian said: “Many thanks to Eilish McColgan and Colin Hutchison for the interview, and to Paddy Burns, CEO at 4J Studios and TEL trustee, for arranging.”