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Liz McColgan hopes other Scottish women will join her as BBC Sports Personality

Liz McColgan won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1991.
Liz McColgan won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1991.

She is the only Scottish women who has ever won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

Yet, nearly 30 years after she made a little piece of history, Liz McColgan has admitted she never expected to be in contention for the prize, even though she trounced the opposition with a memorable victory in the 10,000m at the World Championships.

The Dundee athlete had already secured a brace of Commonwealth gold medals in 1986 and 1990, as the prelude to surging ahead of her global rivals in the Tokyo heat in 1991.

But McColgan revealed this week that, even after achieving so much success in her career, she was shocked when she was confirmed as the winner of the accolade.

She said: “It was such a surprise to emerge as the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, because I never ever dreamed that I would win.

“I just never regarded myself as a well-known sports figure and I always thought that somebody from football or rugby or whatever would end up winning.

Athlete Liz Lynch (Liz McColgan) pictured during a training session.

“So I was stunned when I was announced as the winner. And I had no speech ready or anything like that. But it was definitely one of the highlights of my career.

“I’ve been told that I am the only Scottish woman who has so far gained this award [since it was launched in 1954] but I definitely think there will be other Scottish sportswomen who are capable of winning the public vote in the future.”

The 2020 prize will be handed out this weekend, with F1 star Lewis Hamilton the clear favourite to repeat his success in 2014 after he secured his seventh Grand Prix title and made headlines for supporting the Black Lives Matter campaign.

There is only one woman in the shortlist – horse racing’s Hollie Doyle – who is among  the six nominees, along with world snooker champion, Ronnie O’Sullivan, cricketer Stuart Broad, Liverpool FC captain, Jordan Henderson and boxer Tyson Fury, although the latter has urged his supporters not to vote for him and has asked the BBC to remove his name from the nominees.

Liz Lynch (Liz McColgan), gold medal winner in the Commonwealth 10,000 metres.

McColgan has been impressed by the emergence of a talented crop of international athletes from her homeland, including Laura Muir and her own daughter, Eilish.

But she knows they will have to match the intensity and single-mindedness which led to her getting back on a treadmill just a few weeks after giving birth to Eilish and competing in the 1991 World Cross Country Championships, winning a bronze.

Within the next few months, she not only triumphed on the world stage in Japan, and then participated in her first-ever marathon in New York, where she didn’t just soar to victory, but broke the record for a debut marathon by all of three minutes.

She is one of just five Scots – the others are Ian Black, Jackie Stewart, Chris Hoy and Andy Murray – who have lifted the prize during its 66-year history.

The BBC Sports Awards programme is on Sunday night at 8pm.


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