IN Katharine Merry’s day as a stalwart of the British track and field team, she had one, maybe two Scottish athletes for company. These days, with Merry now comfortably retired and working as a commentator for the BBC, there are so many Scottish athletes in the GB team she cannot decide who watch out for.

The European Championships, which began yesterday in Berlin, will see 17 Scots in action over the seven days of competition, which marks a record representation in the GB team at a major championship. And Merry, who won Olympic 400m bronze in Sydney in 2000, admits she has been delighted to see the progression of Scottish track and field since she hung up her spikes in 2005.

“When I was competing, it was just one or two Scottish names in the GB team each time whereas now, there’s such incredible strength-in-depth,” the 43-year-old said.

“What’s really good for me is that in the past, when I was asked which Scottish athletes I was looking forward to seeing, I’d say one or two individuals. But now, the representation of Scottish athletes is so strong, I can’t list everyone.

"You have the likes of Laura Muir, Eilidh Doyle, Jake Wightman, Chris O’Hare and that list just goes on and on. It’s really exciting to have seen Scottish sport, and Scottish athletics in particular, develop in the way it has.”

What is particularly exciting for Merry is the breadth of disciplines Scots are now world-class in. There are a significant number of Scots who travel to the German capital this week with their eyes on silverware - and Merry is confident their quality will be rewarded.

“These Scottish athletes are not just going to take part, they’re going to really compete and looking at the calibre of athletes Scotland are sending to Berlin, it’s going to be a very successful European Championships for the Scots,” she said.

“It’s the depth across the different events that’s so impressive as well. Yes, there’s great strength in the middle-distance events but the Scots are also going into different events now and it must be so exciting to be a Scottish sports fan at the moment.”

In the past couple of years, Muir has won major medals indoors but she is yet to claim any silverware outdoors. The 25-year-old newly qualified vet goes into these European Championships ranked number one in Europe by some considerable distance but whether she breaks her outdoor duck this week or not, Merry has no doubts that she will start to pick up major medals outdoors sooner or later.

“As a former athlete, that Laura hasn’t won an outdoor medal yet doesn’t matter to me but I can see why it does matter to outsiders and why they comment on it,” the Englishwoman said.

“Laura Muir will win medals outdoors, she is that good. What I’ve always found fascinating as a former sprinter is that when you go to major championships as a middle or long-distance runner, tactics become involved. It’s not always the best athletes who win the medals because tactics become involved.

"As a 400m runner, it was simply whoever ran the fastest would win the medals but when you get the tactics over the longer races, so much comes into play. And championship are completely different races because athletes run for medals.

Laura Muir is phenomenal, and she’s very inspiring. Doing her studies and qualifying as a vet as well as being one of the athletes in the world, especially in the event she’s in which is predominantly dominated by African athletes, there’s a Scottish star right there.”

Merry has also been enthused by the emergence of Beth Dobbin who, over the course of the summer, has come from relative obscurity to British champion and Scottish record holder, breaking a 34-year-old mark. Berlin is another step up for the Loughborough-based 24-year-old but Merry has no doubts she will cope with the jump.

“Beth’s season has taken many people by surprise I think," she said.

"She has the right people around her so she’s being guided in the right direction. She seems to be breaking the Scottish record every time she steps on the track. I’ve been in athletics a long time and I follow track and field religiously and even I thought, ‘I know the name, but who is Beth Dobbin?’

"Running 22.5 seconds into a headwind to win the British Championships is serious sprinting and she has an opportunity at the European Championships to announce herself to more than just Britain, she can announce herself onto the European scene here. And as we know, European sprinting is no slouch with the likes of Dafne Schippers and Dina Asher-Smith.

"When was the last time Scotland had a really good sprinter? It was years and years ago going back to the likes of Ian Mackie and Dougie Walker. So for me, as a former sprinter, it’s really, really good to see Beth come through.”

It is not just the Scots who promise to perform well in Berlin, the British team as a whole is packed with quality. And the current health of the sport is, says Merry, as good as she can remember it.

“The British team is big and it’s strong - and I like that," she said.

"We’re filling most of the spaces and that’s what I like to see. There’s loads of very strong athletes going to Berlin.

"The sprints are always close to my heart so I’ll be looking out for Dina Asher-Smith who is defending her 200m title. She’s in wonderful form at the moment too.

"But the general vibe that’s around the GB team at the moment is so positive and I haven’t seen it like that in all the years since I retired. The belief is really exciting so what I can guarantee is that people will win medals who you weren’t expecting and who just step up and deliver.”