This time last year, Scots athletes Eilidh Child, Laura Muir and Guy Learmonth were approaching the British Indoor Championships and European Trials with little to suggest they might make an impact.
Child was certainly a Commonwealth Games silver medallist but that was over 400 metres hurdles and she had no real form over the flat 400m, especially indoors.
Muir was a promising teenage middle-distance runner while Learmonth had run a succession of Scottish indoor 800m records but had still to make a senior impact.
Now all three have already been chosen for Glasgow 2014 and this weekend Child and Muir are actually defending British champions in Sheffield where, in 2013, Child set a new best of 52.13 seconds which she went on to cut to 51.45 secs, her best outdoors or inside, in capturing the silver medal at the European Championships in Gothenburg.
Muir won the 1500m then in 4:13.59 and has gone from strength to strength since, setting a new Scottish indoor 800m record of 2:00.94 at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena two weeks ago when Learmonth defeated the UK No.1 800m runner Andrew Osagie over 600m in another Scottish record.
For Child, the indoor season is only a means to an end, to improve her fitness and speed for the hurdles which she will run at Hampden in July but, with her GB team-mate and main English rival Perry Shakes Drayton out injured, she will definitely also bid for the World Indoors in Sopot, Poland next month. Muir’s only problem is which distance to run in Glasgow, the 1500m for which she has already been chosen, 800m or both?
She runs the 800m this weekend where, among her opponents, is Jenny Meadows, the former UK No.1 and World silver medallist so beset by injury.
But it may be Learmonth, the 21-year-old Lasswade AC member, who will seize the moment when he takes on Osagie again, plus another GB 800m star, Mukhtar Mohammed: “I think I just need to build on my recent races. I’ll go in with confidence and my main aim is to win, that’s my intention in every race. I just hope I can stay illness and injury free and deliver on the day,” he said.
“At these championships it’s normally only the winner who goes through by right so you have to take it seriously from the start. I always get nervous for the heats as anything can happen,” said Learmonth who will accept selection for Sopot if he meets all the criteria.
Some Scots this weekend will be seeking to clinch their Glasgow 2014 selection, notably Gregor MacLean, whose Scottish Native pole vault record of 5.30m, his sixth qualifier, at the Emirates last Sunday was the Scottish Indoor Championship highlight, and former World bobsleigh champion Gillian Cooke (Edinburgh AC) who has 12 cms to find for her first CGQ mark (6.20m).
MacLean has current World No.2 Luke Cutts (5.83m) to spur him on while Cooke has, in addition to chosen Scots Jade Nimmo and clubmate Sarah Warnock, the British No.1 and World bronze medallist Shara Proctor and multi-talented Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who will also be a threat to Jayne Nisbet (EAC) in the high jump.
Double Scottish indoor champion Allan Hamilton goes in the long jump with still a bit to find to reach the Glasgow target of 7.65m. Glasgow 2014 choice Chris O’Hare (EAC), an impressive 1500m winner for GB in the Sainsbury’s International, faces former clubmate Kris Gauson and another old rival from his USA indoor track days, fellow-Scot Dave Bishop who is back from New Mexico with Lasswade’s Ross Matheson in the 1500m. EAC member Kirsty Yates could clinch a Glasgow shot putt standard if she can up her national indoor distance of 15.26m by 24 cms.