Liz McColgan earned herself a place in the history books as she took Scottish distance running to unprecedented heights.

She became the third woman in history to run the 10,000m in less than 31 minutes and her personal best of 30:57.07 in 1991 – along with her fastest marathon (2:26.52) in London in 1997 – are still Scottish records to this day.

Born Elizabeth Lynch in Dundee in 1964, the 12-year-old had her first taste of victory in the Dundee Schools Cross Country Championship in 1976 and she won her first UK athletics titles in 1982 at the age of 18.

Her first international race, a 4.7km at the World Cross Country Championships in Italy, saw her placing a lowly 71st.  Undaunted, she took on the 10,000m at the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh and won her first international title to the delight of the home support. 

Over the next 30 years, Liz reached the top of her game. Highlights included an Olympic silver medal at Seoul in 1998 and a second Commonwealth gold in Auckland in 1990, both in the 10,000m. Other victories included golds at the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo and the World Half Marathon Championships in Newcastle in 1992. She also claimed silvers at the World Cross Country Championships (1987) and World Indoor Championships (1989).

In 1991, Liz was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year and in 1992 was awarded an MBE. Four years later, she won the London Marathon, finishing as runner-up the following year in her career-best time.

She retired from competing in 2001 after fracturing a bone in her foot, but made sporadic appearances over the next 15 years. The eldest of her five children, Eilish, is now an accomplished long-distance runner who is a double European medallist and a three-time Olympian.


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