With an impressive track record to build on and a great 2013 season so far, 400m hurdler Eilidh Child is ready to take on the world in August when she heads to Moscow for the World Championships. She is then just one winter’s training away from a home Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year and the prospect of hearing Hampden roar for her and fellow Team Scotland track and field athletes.
The 26 year old is no stranger to top flight competition, having competed in both the 2009 and 2011 World Championships, the London 2012 Olympic Games, and she was a silver medallist at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi. Originally from Perth, Eilidh currently splits her time between Cumbernauld and training down in Bath with specialist hurdles coach, Malcolm Arnold, which has produced some impressive results, going under the Glasgow qualification standard on numerous occasions already this year, setting PBs and Scottish records in the process.
Looking back on her Olympic experiences of a year ago she said: “I don’t think I expected London to be as loud and great as it was on the first day. Usually at the morning events, the crowds aren’t all there. When we came out on that first day it was a full stadium, and the noise was just deafening, and I think that surprised everyone.”
“After the Olympics, I’ve talked to so many people who couldn’t make it to London, but have said they want the same feeling at Glasgow, and will not be missing out in 2014. I think because it’s a home games it’s going to be more intimate than the Olympics. It’s Scotland, and if you’re a Scottish athlete it will be more of a patriotic picture because we’re not just competing for Great Britain.”
With one year to go, Child is beginning to embrace the level of expectations on her shoulders: “It’s really quite scary”, Child jokingly said. “It doesn’t feel like three years ago that we competed in Delhi, and everything is coming round so quickly. I’m glad that I am running well and achieving personal bests now.”
Child is also up to speed with the ambitious plans that will be implemented to transform Hampden Park into the athletics centrepiece for the Commonwealth Games. Normally home to the Scotland national football team, and host to Scottish Cup finals and the like, a temporary track with a fast Mondo surface will be installed, sitting approximately eight rows above the existing pitch. Child knows the stadium well; having watched her beloved Herts play there on occasions, and is looking forward to the experience.
“We were just talking the other day about how they are going to lift up the track”, Child said. “I was wondering if it will still feel like the Hampden I know, and when I step out onto the track will it feel like something different. It’s weird to think about.”
No stranger to the Commonwealth Games, Eilidh has been watching and following Team Scotland for several years. Her earliest memory was the Manchester Games in 2002 when she was 15 and starting to compete in athletics herself. Eight years later, she was competing in Delhi and winning a silver medal in the 400m hurdles.
“Watching Manchester and Melbourne were exciting to me because I knew the people running. I think these Games in Glasgow will be totally different from Delhi, because Delhi was at the end of the athletics season, and many teams didn’t put out as many athletes. I think here there will be a different feel because you’re in your home country. Instead of just immediate family coming to watch, all my aunties and uncles will be here, and that will be incredible to have them on my side.”
Focusing for now on the World Championships, with a place in the final her season’s goal, Child is preparing herself for what will hopefully go down as one of the biggest breakthrough years of her career so far. Competing against GB team mate and long-time rival Perri Shakes-Drayton, the two will be battling it in Moscow and then carrying that competition over to Glasgow in 2014, when they will wear opposing team vests.
Currently number seven in the world, Eilidh is doggedly working towards Commonwealth gold, and is assured of having the support of Team Scotland and the Scottish public behind her, one hurdle at a time.
You can follow Eilidh on Twitter @EilidhChild
Photo Credit: CGS