Eilish McColgan follows in her mum's footsteps to a 10,000m race gold

‘It’s surreal’: McColgan follows in her mother’s footsteps to a record-breaking 10,000m race win at Commonwealth Games

Eilish McColgan

Eilish McColgan’s gold medal win in the 10,000m race has become an iconic part of this year’s Commonwealth Games and an even more priceless mother-daughter moment. 

Following in her mother’s footsteps on Wednesday night, the Scottish athlete upset the odds to beat out the favourite, Irene Cheptai of Kenya in the 10,000m event. McColgan’s time of 30:48.60 smashed the existing Game’s record– set in 2002 by Selina Kosgei of Kenya– by nearly 40 seconds.

The 10,000m is an event that the McColgan family knows well considering McColgan’s mother, Liz Nuttal (formerly McColgan), previously won the women’s 10,000m world title and the 10,000m crown at the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in 1986. Four years later, Nuttal set a Commonwealth Games record in Auckland for the event with a time of 31:41.42.

Now that her own daughter has broken her previous 36-year-old record and become a Commonwealth champion, McColgan’s mother couldn’t be more proud. 

“As an athlete myself, you have fond memories of having success and whatever but when it’s your own children, it’s 100 times better,” says Nuttall.

“It’s just one of those really special moments and I was just thankful I was actually in the stadium and able to experience how the home support helped lift her to that gold medal.”

After a 25-lap battle around the track, McColgan and Cheptai were roared on by the Birmingham crowd down the final stretch where both women pushed to the limit before McColgan drew ahead in a final surge to claim the gold. 

It was a nail-biting showdown that ended with McColgan being draped in the Scottish flag before finding her mother in the crowd for an emotional and teary-eyed embrace.  

“It was like a vibration going through my body. Even the last 200; I can’t even explain that feeling,” says McColgan. “At 150 to go, I thought, ‘I’m going to win this.’ The crowd just pushed and pushed me right to the end.”

“It’s surreal. The whole thing is just surreal. I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.”

This was McColgan’s fourth Commonwealth Games and her fourth event after running the 1500m, the 5km and the steeplechase, finishing sixth in all except for the 10,000m. 

The 31-year-old’s 10,000m victory was years in the making, having overcome injury and setbacks at major events before getting to this point. 

“I wanted it so badly,” says McColgan.

“I knew the girls [her competitors] were super strong. But I knew if I could stay with them I had a chance of a medal. This is an absolute dream.”

It’s been said that McColgan’s win is an important moment for British sport and there’s no doubt its emotional impact has lit up this year’s Commonwealth Games

It seems McColgan has found her event on the track but says her next chapter will turn to the roads and marathon racing as she’s excited to now head into the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

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