Team Scotland’s golden girl of the athletics track at the Bahamas 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games with victory in the 1500m, just nine months later Erin Wallace was back on a Commonwealth Games start line, having made the immediate step up to the senior team for Gold Coast 2018. Going from junior to senior ranks is a big ask for any young athlete, but even more remarkably she did it in a different sport, competing in the Triathlon Mixed Relay event ‘Down Under’.
“Gold Coast was a surreal experience and one that I will never forget,” said Erin. “I didn’t expect to compete in my first Commonwealth Games so soon after the Commonwealth Youth Games. It was very special, as I watched a lot of the previous Commonwealth Games in Glasgow because it was my hometown. I never would have guessed four years down the line that I would be competing myself.”
And she didn’t stop at there. A jam-packed summer saw her finish 7th over 1500m at the World Junior Athletics Championships in Finland and just a week later finish 5th at the European Junior Triathlon Championships in Estonia. Fast forward a couple of months and she was back in Gold Coast for the World Junior Triathlon Championships, where she put in an incredible performance to take the silver medal.
“It has been a bit hectic at times, but I’m grateful that I was given equal opportunities to compete in both sports,” she says. “It’s tough to pick a highlight, but making it to the final of the World Junior 1500m and the silver medal I won in Gold Coast later on in the year were special for similar reasons. In both I felt that I was able to execute my best race on the day for what I was capable of and all the work I had put in was shown.”
On the back of her outstanding track record, Erin was recently named as one of 18 young Scottish athletes receiving a PHM Scholarship Award through the Scottish Commonwealth Games Youth Trust, following in the footsteps of current stars such as Charlie Flynn, Kirsty Gilmour and Zoey Clark.
“Reading the article that listed the previous recipients of the award, seeing the names there brings it home what a privilege it is to receive this support. I’m looking to compete in a few races abroad to gain some more experience before the summer season kicks off, so the money will really help me with that and hopefully give me racing experience to help me perform at my best in the championships.
“The recognition has also helped me look at my long term goals in these two sports more realistically. So far there has been a fair amount of overlap in training, with my triathlon training providing a pretty good aerobic base for my athletics, so I have not found balancing too difficult. It’s hard to fit all the training I want to do into the week, whilst still having enough recovery time, and I forget sometimes that I can’t train as a full time runner and triathlete simultaneously!”
Finalist in the Young Athlete of the Year category at September’s Team Scotland Scottish Sports Awards, Erin is also shortlisted as a finalist for U20 Athlete of the Year at this weekend’s scottishathletics Annual Awards. Not one to rest on her laurels, she is full of ambition for 2019 and beyond, including already looking ahead to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
“Next year my main aims are the European Junior Championships in both Athletics and Triathlon during the summer and luckily next year they are nicely spread apart which will let me focus on both of them individually. There is also the World Junior Triathlon Championships which is closer to home this time, in Lausanne, Switzerland.
“I would like to compete at Birmingham 2022 because a Games so close to home would be amazing to compete in and I would love to experience an atmosphere similar to Glasgow 2014. I suppose long term my goals are similar to most athletes – to compete or medal at the Olympics and World Championships – and hopefully with the support I have this will be possible. Although there are other stepping stones along the way to top success, I’m excited to see what the future brings.”