A SURVIVOR of breaks, bumps and batterings, Eilish McColgan would have settled merely for the nirvana of a single Olympic appearance at London 2012.

The Dundonian was a steeplechaser then. Like her father Peter. The hurdles, the splashes into the water, her youthful fragile frame did not readily cope.

Screw and bolts held her together as those Games approached. Career over, her surgeon said. A hobby jogger – his words – at best. A contrarian to such medical absolutes, she ploughed on, stubbornness that came in handy again when a broken foot sidelined her for almost a year prior to rebounding to make Rio 2016.

Whatever it takes, and nothing less. “It's really difficult to try and explain it to people,” she says, “when they ask, 'how do you go for a run when it's raining outside? How did you find the motivation and the drive to do it?'

“And it's a really difficult question to answer because I don't know where that sort of blind faith to keep going comes from. Because I didn't know if I'd make either Olympics. But I was just determined to get back running and to prove them wrong.”

Three times an Olympian, officially, when she tests herself in Tokyo in the heats of the 5,000m today. Third time just as charming, especially when she arrives fresh from wrestling the British record away from Paula Radcliffe 28 days ago in Oslo.

For some competitors here, the Games can unthinkingly feel all business, a Diamond League with extra sparkle. This is the first day of track and field competition, but the absence of spectators within a 68,000-capacity stadium will give it no greater natural ambience than a Scottish Schools in Grangemouth. The piped in noise, bought in from Australia, will hardly fill the void.

However just to be in this company, means so much, McColgan underlines. Amid all the restrictions and protocols and the fun factor sucked out by a vacuum, when she pauses for thought for a second, the European medallist twice over can appreciate how far she can come.

“As an athlete, you're always thinking of the next thing: the next race, the next event,” she said. “You've got the Olympics. And then next year, you're looking at the Commonwealths and the worlds and Europeans. So you never really get a chance to properly reflect, I suppose, on what you've done over the last 9-10 years.

“And it's only when someone mentions it’s my third Games that I think, 'yeah, I'm actually really, really proud of that.' Because I may not have any global medals to my name or anything like that. But I'm actually really proud to have consistently made the team.

“You see people make one and then they don't make another. That's when I started to realise actually, it's not easy to make three teams, to be consistently coming back from an injury or an illness or whatever, and still manage to make three in a row. It’s something that I'll always be proud of.”

The 5,000 was due to be her secondary gambit here. The 10,000m next week, for performance and sentimental reasons, the main target, 30 years after her mother Liz claimed the world title at the longer distance in this same city. A taxing twin assault. Weeks of training in the heat and at altitude in southern France have left her chilled about the challenge.

“There are four days between making the final of the 5000 and the 10000,” she said. “So I think it is enough time to recover and to bounce back. And it's going to be tough, no matter what. It's going to be very, very tough.”

Marc Scott shoulders British hopes in the men’s 10,000m final while Scottish duo Zoey Clark and Nicole Yeargin are both on call for tonight’s semis of the mixed 4x400 relay.