During Euro96, the missiles ﬂew over Hadrian’s Wall; during the Olympics, the nations unite behind the Ilnion Jack. Nevertheless, file list unfurls a Saltire and cheers on some of the Scots who will strive for
glory in the British team.
ll: McColgan prepares for another marathon effort
Georgia on my mind
century on from the first modern Olympiad. Atlanta is about to play host to the biggest Olympic Games ever. Look
out for new sports. more athletes representing more countries. more
sponsorship and. of course. millions more people tuning in to watch the TV coverage. Indeed. the 23rd Olympic Games will be a colossal sporting event in every possible sense. Well. in every sense but one: the I996 Games sees Scottish participation down to its lowest level in years. Of the 32l athletes travelling to America as members of the British team. barely 5 per cent are from Scotland. In track and field. some ofthe biggest names are notable for their absence. 'l‘om McKean has given up running to train as a policeman: Yvonne Murray is still running. but opted out of Atlanta; and Melanie Neef failed to qualify after a season dogged by injury. Instead. Scottish track hopes rest on the shoulders of a small group of relative newcomers. Ian Mackie seeks to carry on the tradition established by Allan Wells in the l()()m. David Strang runs in the 800m and Alison Curbishly has a place in the 4x4()()m relay squad. There‘s more experience in the women‘s marathon with Karen McLeod and Liz McColgan. Both were pre-selected for the Games. with McColgan coming into the race as one of the favourites to win gold.
Outside Georgia's impressive new athletics stadium. another Scot in with a chance of striking gold is Ian Stark. the champion three- day-eventer from the Borders. Similarly. Pauline Robertson. Susan Fraser and Rhona Simpson have a good chance of winning medals with a British women's hockey team that won bronze in Barcelona.
Stewart Pitt and Mark Delaney face stiff competition from the Americans in the kayaking events. but rower Gillian Lindsay might find a place on the podium with the rest of the British women‘s eight. Brian Smith faces the prospect of meeting Miguel Indurain. Tony Rominger and most of the rest of the world’s best cyclists in the road race. while Sarah Phillips has a similarly daunting task in the women‘s event. Joyce Herron and Graeme Randall compete in the judo. and Alison Shepperd has a place in the 4xl()()m freestyle swimming team.
Any one of them could become a household name overnight. But. of course. it’s the taking part that counts. (John Richardson)
Scottish sports presenter Hazel Irvine teams up with Gary Lineker for the BBC is Olympic Grandstand morning slot. which features extended highlights of the overnight action and looks forward to the day’s events. ‘There's something special about the Olympics. ’ she says. 'an excitement that Is there front the moment you get up to the moment you go to bed.’
In the running
f athletics is all about achieving personal
targets. then I996 must go down as a good
year for Ian Mackie because. with two thirds of the summer season still to go. the young Scottish sprinter has already exceeded his own expectations.
‘At the start of the year I wanted to make it into the Olympic team.‘ Mackie reﬂects. ‘but I only wanted to be a member of the 4xl00m relay squad.’ However. when the 2l-year-old came third in the l()()m sprint at the British Olympic trials last month. he was catapulted into the individual event as well. ‘It was a surprise to do so well.’ he admits. ‘There were other athletes in the competition who were faster than me on paper. but I was very focused that day.’
Now the Dunfermline native faces the prospect of going head-to-head with the fastest men in the world. including boyhood hero and
L 20 The List I2-25 Jul 1996
defending 'Olympic champion. Linford Christie. Mackie. however. refuses to be intimidated. ‘It isn't something I‘ve given a lot of thought to.‘ he asserts. ‘l‘ve raced Linford a couple of times before — it‘s no different to any other race. He‘sjust an athlete like me.‘ Although he glosses over the differences between himself and Christie. there is a clear
disparity between the two sprinters in terms of
their preparations for the Atlanta Olympics. For instance. while Christie spent his winter warm- weather training in Florida. Mackie was doing sessions down at his local Pitreavie athletics track. ‘I do remember training last winter when it was minus lo degrees and there was a foot of snow on the ground.‘ he laughs. ‘To be honest. about the only training I do indoors is in the weight room.‘
And then there‘s the question of money. Where Christie supplements the substantial sums he earns racing on the Grand Prix circuit with lucrative sponsorship deals. Mackie — who is unemployed — struggles to make ends meet on income support. ‘Money is definitely a problem.‘ he confesses. ‘I have had no financial
assistance. no bursaries. no grants. nothing. It’s all down to my parents — they have been fantastic. Anything I have achieved in athletics has been thanks to their support.‘
But with his ﬂight to the big dance in Atlanta booked. Mackie can expect to hit pay-dirt sooner rather than later. Indeed. he has already had an invitation to run at a Grand Prix meeting in Gateshead later this month. However. the Olympics remain his top priority. ‘I had another invitation to run at the Stockholm Grand Prix meeting.’ he says. ‘but that would bethree days away from training — time Ijust can’t afford.‘
But can Mackie afford to raise his expectations with regard to the Olympics? ‘Obviously I have to be realistic.’ he says. ‘But I am a racer - I don’t sprint against the clock. I run to beat the other athletes. And if things go well'for me in Atlanta. I h0pe to at least make the semi-finals.’
Given his spectacular progress so far this year. that’s a possibility he might just realise. (John Richardson)
Ian Mackie ﬁrst leaves the starting blocks on Friday 26 July at 4pm.