World Championships 2017: Callum Hawkins stands out as Zoey Clark joins elite

By Kheredine IdessaneBBC Scotland
Callum Hawkins (right) leads the pack in the marathon at the World Championships
Callum Hawkins (right) finished fourth in the marathon at the World Championships

Reflecting on a dramatic 10 days in and around the London Stadium, Aberdeen's Zoey Clark claimed she's in shock at what she's achieved.

It's not difficult to understand why. In her maiden event at this level, the British 400m champion joined an elite band of Scottish athletes. Only five others have won a medal at the World Athletics Championships.

Liz McColgan is still the only Scot to have tasted individual success. That 10,000m gold in Tokyo back in 1991 will live long in the memory. Her daughter, Eilish, 10th over half the distance this year, is now hunting down mum's 5,000m personal best.

Three Scots have stood on World Championships relay podiums and Clark is one of them. Eilidh Doyle, who took silver along with Clark this time round, and Lee McConnell are serial medallists as part of the 400m relay squad. In the sprint relay, the former European 200m champion, Dougie Walker, helped the British team to bronze in Athens in 1997.

An honourable mention for Kirsten McAslan too. Not selected for the final, she nonetheless got a bronze medal two years ago in Beijing for helping the British team through the heats before watching them take third in the final.

So half a dozen Scots have World Championships medals on the mantelpiece. We very nearly had two more in London.

Surely the best Scottish performer was Kilbarchan AC's Callum Hawkins, who followed up a fine top-10 performance at last summer's Rio Olympics with a superb fourth place in the marathon.

He might not have seen the crown jewels along the way in an event that started and finished at Tower Bridge, but he was agonisingly within sight of a historic bronze. As it is, no British man has bettered his performance in a World Championships marathon.

If Hawkins thought he was close to a medal, spare a thought for Laura Muir. Beaten to the bronze by seven one hundredths of a second.

No wonder she collapsed to the track after the photo-finish with South Africa's Caster Semenya, unable and unwilling to look at the giant scoreboard that beamed out confirmation of her agony.

Her time will come, though. Don't take my word for it: take Brendan Foster's. The English long-distance legend has made a solemn promise to BBC Scotland: Muir will be a major championship gold medallist within four years. We'll hold him to that, shall we?

As well as the two silver medallists, and two fourth-placers, there were other fine performances from by far the biggest Scottish contingent ever to join a British team for the World Athletics Championships.

In the 5,000m, Andy Butchart has a tough act to follow after Sir Mo Farah's retirement from the track, but he's finished in the top 10 at the Olympics and now the World Championships and surely has a great future ahead.

Laura Muir (left) in 5,000m action in London
Laura Muir (left) was sixth in the 5,000m final in London

Perhaps the best gauge of improvement is the contrast between these World Championships and the London Olympics.

In 2012, only five Scots competed in track and field. None made a final. Fast forward five years and we have 16 Scots making the team; two winning medals and their compatriots qualifying for seven finals.

The promising thing is that many of the athletes are in their early to mid-20s and have several major championships ahead of them still. Indeed, Muir believes she could yet compete in three more Olympic Games, through to 2028.

It's the best crop of kids since the halcyon days when Liz McColgan, Tom McKean and Yvonne Murray were blazing a trail more than 25 years ago.

Even the most experienced, GB captain Doyle, says she has no intention of retiring any time soon and has her sights firmly set on leading Scotland into next year's Commonwealth Games on Australia's Gold Coast.

Lynsey Sharp, who finished eighth in the 800m, called it correctly: for the first time in a while, making the Scottish athletics team in some events will be an achievement in itself given the encouraging competition for places.

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