Britain’s Olympic Greats – Liz McColgan

Labour Party

Liz McColgan is one of Britain’s most successful middle to long distance runners, enjoying a huge amount of success over her long career.

She was born Elizabeth Lynch and grew up in the Whitfield area of Dundee and was a pupil of St Saviour’s RC High School.  Liz’s athletics career began at the age 12 when she joined her local athletics club, the Hawkhill Harriers, on the advice of her PE teacher. Liz soon discovered a talent for distance running and won her first UK titles at the age of 18.  After the death of her coach, Liz coached herself in preparation for the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in 1986.

It was in Edinburgh that Liz enjoyed her first success, taking the gold medal in the 10,000 metres, finishing nearly 12 seconds ahead of the nearest competitor and giving the host country its only gold medal in Athletics.  After this achievement she went on to win a silver medal at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.

Liz became the only Scot to successfully defended a Commonwealth title at the 1990 games in Auckland, New Zealand, when she took the gold for the 10,000 metres again, as well as taking bronze at the 3,000 metres. In August 1991, she won gold in the 10,000 metres at the World Championships in Tokyo, Japan.  In November of that year at the New York City Marathon, her first marathon, she won with a time of 2:27.23, beating the record for a debut marathon by three minutes.

Liz finally retired from competing in August 2001 when she fractured a bone in her foot while training for selection for the 2002 Commonwealth Games. She currently coaches young athletes, both at the Liz McColgan Health Club and Physiotherapy Centre in Carnoustie, Angus and at the Institute of Sportand Exercise at Dundee University.

In 1991, Liz was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year.  The next year she was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire and inducted to the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame.