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17 October 2014

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Liz McColgan and Yvonne Murray

Liz McColgan

© SNSpix

If you were to search for a role model to put before aspirant young athletes, you would do well to find a better example than Liz McColgan.

She rose from a council estate in Dundee and, against all the odds, found widespread international recognition for her success in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Her career accomplishments were achieved not only through natural talent but from sheer grit and determination, the classic embodiment of Scottish sporting triumph.

Born Elizabeth Lynch in Dundee, she showed precocious talent from an early age and, as a junior member of the Hawkhill Harriers Club, won the Dundee Schools Cross Country Championship in 1976. This was the first step on the road towards a glittering career which spanned over 15 years and took her to every corner of the globe.

Lynch first came to the public's attention in 1986 when she took gold in the 10,000m at the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh. Coupled with making a name for herself on the world stage, she also helped prove that not only was Scotland capable of hosting such a games, but the country was producing talented athletes who could compete among the very best.

She married Northern Irish steeplechaser Peter McColgan in 1987 and assumed what was to become one of the most famous surnames in sport.

Liz McColgan


Undoubtedly McColgan's finest hour came at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. She was listed to compete in the 10,000m event with a field crammed with top quality competitors, including Ingrid Kristiansen who had dominated the 10,000m for the previous two years and was the clear favourite to win again in Seoul.

Surprisingly Kristiansen retired early in the race with a foot injury, leaving McColgan and Olga Bondarenko to fight it out for victory. The Scot led until the final stages, but was outsprinted by Bondarenko, who subsequently broke the Olympic record. McColgan claimed silver for Great Britain.

The Dundonian then took a year off to have her first child, Eilish. This left a gap to be filled and her contemporary Yvonne Murray duly obliged.

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