COLIN Jackson’s athletics prowess was always presumed to spring from his Jamaican roots, but just maybe his Scottish ancestry – revealed in a recent episode of BBC show ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ – had something to do with it too.

The 110m hurdles legend, twice a world champion and an Olympic silver medallist over the distance, is part of the corporation’s punditry team for the European Championships which get under way in Berlin today, where he will cast his eyes over a whopping 17-strong representation from north of the border – the most we have provided to the event for a century.

Considering the national sporting heritage we derive from the likes of Liz McColgan, Yvonne Murray and Tom McKean, he isn’t surprised that more than half of our athletes will compete in the middle-distance events.

Jackson was crowned continental champion four times over a 12-year span in his chosen discipline, medals which he always prized dearly. If vying for supremacy against the likes of his fellow Brit Tony Jarrett brought the best out in him, Jackson feels the same applies to the healthy sense of competition within this extraordinary Scottish surge in the sport.

Perhaps this is seen clearest in the women’s 1500m, where young Jemma Reekie follows her training partner Laura Muir over to Germany this week, or the men’s equivalent, where Chris O’Hare and Jake Wightman (and others) have a healthy rivalry going on.

“Most of the best people I was running against were European!” joked Jackson. “So I always had to be on top form to win my championships. The European Championships was always one of the big competitions – the home of athletics, the sport really, is in Europe, so to win here you need to perform at your best. This is a medal which is always really well recognised, always very high on the list.

“The first one I won was 1990 in Split and it is the one I treasure the most because I wasn’t in the best shape coming in,” he added. “I had injured my knee and I was really worrying whether I could make it through the race, let alone win the title.

“Tony Jarrett was running very well at that time too so I knew if I didn’t win, Tony was going to,” he added. “When you are trying to be the best, you don’t want someone else from your own country taking that medal. I loved that competition and they will love it as well.

“When you are pushing each other on, it inspires you to put up better performances. Better performances get you more invites to diamond leagues and such like and ultimately get you more money and prestige.”

While Muir’s battle with Sifan Hassan for 1500m gold, and O’Hare and Wightman’s duel with Norway’s Filip and Jakob Ingebritsen, promise to be highlights for a Scottish audience, Jackson reckons nine gold medals is more than achievable in all for this GB squad, as is a clean sweep of the men’s 100m medals.

The sudden rise of 200m runner Beth Dobbin, a girl who once feared for her life after suffering an epileptic seizure, has captured his imagination. Attention will also be focused as ever on Eilidh Doyle, with whom he once shared a coach in Malcolm Arnold. The 31-year-old could vie with Switzerland’s Lea Sprunger for the 400m hurdles title which she won in Zurich in 2014.

“Eilidh is one of those people who proves that if you put the hard work and graft in, then anything can happen,” said Jackson. “She can raise her performance in the major championships when it is needed. That is some of the magic with Eilidh.

“I watched her develop, and I know from Malcolm how committed to it she was,” Jackson added. “She reminded me of another athlete Malcolm coached, Kay Morley, in that sense of being able to commit to things, work hard, recognise what her abilities are.

“She has had very successful indoor campaigns on the flat, had to deal with being runner-up to people like Perry Shakes-Drayton, yet she always knew that if she could keep her form, her mind, her dedication and commitment, that she could get back, and she obviously has.

“As for Beth, I know Sandra Whittaker from back in the day, a great Scottish 200m runner, so to see someone going for that record and getting it, then running so well in the trials, literally out of the blue, she managed to do it when it mattered, it was a real eye opener. You really don’t know where life can take you.

“There was talk of Laura Muir doing the 800/1500m double, but she had that little Achilles problem which set her back. When you are at that level, any tiny little thing which knocks off 0.05 per cent can have a massive effect.

“I think Laura will be in tip-top shape. Obviously in that kind of race things can happen, you can be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but we all know Laura’s capabilities.”