NO MATTER how strict the criteria, it is hard to escape the conclusion that this has been a vintage year for Edinburgh Athletic Club (EAC), an amateur sports club supported entirely by the fundraising activities of its committee and the subscriptions of its members.
But is it getting too hard to sustain without some meaningful sponsorship deal?
No strangers to success – as far back as the sixties – the former Edinburgh Southern Harriers and the old EAC had jousted regularly for top British club honours – the modern-day EAC women’s team can justly claim to be Britain’s top club, having won the UK Women’s League title for the second year in a row and with it the right to represent Britain again in the European Club Championships in Turkey next May.
“That is a great honour but it also means a great deal of hard work – this year it cost us over £14,000 to go to Portugal and it could be even more to go to Turkey,” said publicity co-ordinator Gillian Cooke, the former World bobsleigh champion and Scottish long champion, who so narrowly missed making the Scottish team for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, achieving one of the two necessary qualifying standards to gain selection for Hampden.
It speaks volumes for the club loyalty that several chose to compete in Portugal, helping EAC to a very creditable debut in fifth place.
In total, nine EAC members competed in the 2104 Games at Hampden, including 800 metres silver medallist Lynsey Sharp, whose dramatic fight to make the podium has been well documented elsewhere and could yet see her being named Scottish Athletics’ Senior Athlete of the Year.
The fact that she twice had to overcome the odds and illness may tip the scales in her favour.
We must not forget Chris O’Hare either, whose Euro 1500m bronze was another brave effort and who is also in the running for Scottish Senior Athlete of the Year. In a year other than this one, he would surely have walked it.
Others in Team Scotland were women high jumpers Emma Nuttall and Jayne Nisbet, long jumper Sarah Warnock, hammer-thrower Susan McKelvie, shot-putter Kirsty Yates, who was fifth, and Jake Wightman in the 1500m.
A total of five stars from the Capital have been nominated for this year’s Scottish Awards with Kimberley Reed, World junior hammer finalist nominated for Under-20 Athlete of the Year along with hill runner Andrew Lawler.
Middle-distance star Josh Kerr looks a strong favourite for the Under-17 Athlete of the Year after a year in which he took double gold at the English Under-17 Championhips, gold at the UK School Games, gold at the British Schools International and double gold at the Scottish Schools Championships at Hampden.
And despite a concern the club are not producing senior cross-country runners any more, Australian-born Maddie Murray reminded us what a fine prospect she is by beating Laura Muir (Glasgow University) for second place behind Edinburgh University’s Rhona Auckland in the Scottish 4k Championships at Bellahouston Sports Centre last Saturday.