Over the past decade, it has become accepted that Scotland is a middle and long-distance nation.

With Laura Muir, Jake Wightman, Josh Kerr, Eilish McColgan, Callum Hawkins and Andy Butchart stealing the headlines, you would be forgiven for forgetting that distances shorter than 800m even exist in athletics.

It is changed days from the 1970s and ’80s when Allan Wells was winning Olympic 100m gold, the men’s sprint relay team was competing with – and, in many cases, beating – the world’s best and on the women’s side, Sandra Whittaker reached Olympic level and for decades, was peerless in the female Scottish sprinting scene.

We had reached a point where those sprinting achievements seemed a lifetime ago. Middle-distance success was breeding middle-distance success and sprinters were an endangered species in contemporary Scottish track and field.

Yet, almost unnoticed, there has been a sea change. Over the past few years, Scottish sprinters – and by that, I mean 100m and 200m runners – have gone from having a similar status to black rhinos to now, being almost everywhere you look.

It started with Beth Dobbin. The English-based Scot began her charge in 2018 by becoming British 200m champion and breaking the 34-year-old Scottish record. She forced her way into consideration for GB selection, becoming a regular in British teams at major championships before becoming an Olympian in 2021.

It is impossible to judge whether Dobbin’s success was a catalyst for further Scottish sprinting success or if it was coincidental but regardless, she breached the dam and since then, sprinters have flowed through.

Dobbin is now joined by a host of her compatriots in being able to say they are top-class sprinters. On the female side, there are a handful who are running times that haven’t been seen for decades.

Alisha Rees is Scotland’s fastest-ever woman over 100m, last season breaking the Scottish record that had stood for almost half a century.

Alyson Bell is now the third fastest over 100m, while in the 200m, Dobbin tops the all-time ranking list ahead of Georgia Adam.

The women’s 4x100m relay team of Rebecca Matheson, Rees, Sarah Malone and Taylah Spence, last year, ran four of the five fastest times ever by a Scottish quartet.

And on the men’s side things are equally encouraging. The 100m specialist, Adam Thomas, is the fastest Scottish man this century, as well as Scottish record holder indoors over 60m.

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And in the 200m, US-based Adam Clayton who, this weekend has won his first GB vest at the European Games, is the fastest Scot indoors by a country mile and the fastest for 25 years outdoors.

It means that going into the British Championships in a fortnight, which doubles as the trials for the World Championships this summer, there will be considerable interest in which sprinters can join the almost certain picks like Wightman, Muir, Kerr and McColgan.

The surge of Scottish sprinters is a credit to a sport that has developed a hugely effective conveyor belt of talent in recent years.

Things have not, admittedly, returned to the halcyon days when Wells was winning Olympic silverware; in reality, global sprinting has moved on to such an extent that we are unlikely to ever have a Scot able to compete with the fastest men or women on the planet anymore.

But we have now a sizeable group of Scottish sprinters who can compete regularly and impressively on the world stage.

The significance of this, particularly when we already have a band of world-class middle-distance runners, may not be immediately obvious.

Scotland is already classed as one of the strongest athletics nations internationally when population is taken into account so does it really matter in which events the strength lies?

Well, actually, it does.

There will be many kids who watch athletics in this country who will never become middle-distance runners, whether it’s because of their talent, their physiology or their mentality.

But over the past few years, this wave of Scottish sprinters has shown there are plenty of other paths to follow.

We need that. It needs to be clear to kids coming through the sport that Scotland is not only a nation that produces endurance athletes but is also one that can produce sprinters.

The past few years have done this.

That’s hugely significant and important when it comes to continuing to develop athletics in the coming years and decades.


There are few sportswomen who are quite as remarkable as Venus Williams.

At 43, most athletes are long retired but Williams has shown that although a long way from the level which saw top of the world rankings, she still has the motivation to chase a fluffy yellow ball around a tennis court.

In many ways, her decision to continue her career into her forties is unfathomable. She need never earn another penny in her life – her career prize money alone is well over $40 million – and, with seven Grand Slam titles, she is already considered one of the best female tennis players.

Yet she still has the desire to compete.

She has been awarded a wildcard for Wimbledon, which starts a week tomorrow.

We should enjoy watching her while we still have the chance because retirement is, surely, nigh.