NO-one could have argued if Malcolm Arnold had traded in his stopwatch and tracksuit for the pipe and slippers for good by now. When he embarked on his storied career as an athletics coach in the run-up to the Mexico Olympics in 1968, Tommie Smith was still practising his black power salute and Dick Fosbury perfecting his flop.

Having tutored the likes of Colin Jackson, Jason Gardener, Uganda’s John Akii-Bua and Canada's Mark McCoy to world greatness over the course of the next half-century, this specialist sprint and hurdles coach has was more than entitled to pack it all in at the ripe old age of 76 when his contract at UK Athletics expired on Hogmanay, and not just because the national federation had decided to withdraw funding from the High Performance Centre at the University of Bath where he has been based for the last 18 years.

Instead, he has cheerfully pledged to hang around, two days a week, mainly to help Eilidh Doyle target the medal at the world championships in London this summer which would move her clear of Yvonne Murray as Scotland's most decorated athlete.

Doyle took home an Olympic bronze in the 4x400m relay from Rio which was Scotland's first track and field medal since 1988, but satisfaction was tempered by disappointment over her eighth placed finish in her preferred event, the 400m hurdles. It didn't help that she had to run the final from lane one, but Arnold feels the 29-year-old from Perthshire still has some unfinished business to attend to this season.

First there is the indoor season - a portion of her year which Doyle opted to skip in 2016 in the wake of her wedding to Brian in late 2015. It all begins at Lee Valley this Sunday with a showdown on the flat against Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad of the USA before hopefully the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade in March.

Doyle had previously spoken about bringing the curtain down on her career after the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast in the spring of 2018 but Arnold told Herald Sport that another crack at the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020 is back on the agenda. Whether he can further delay his retirement until then is another matter.

"She [Doyle] has got ambitions to go on to Tokyo, so she tells me," said Arnold. "So that's good. Her next big one is the World Championships in London then very soon after that it will be the Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games which will obviously be a huge Scottish thing.

"She was very pleased with the medal in the relay in Rio but it was obviously a little disappointing in the hurdles," he added. "If you look through the rounds she got the wrong semi-final draw and had she got one place higher in the semi-final she would have got a better place in the final, rather than lane 1. But what happens happened and you are a victim of what you do in the rounds when the final comes along. If I look back to 2009 and the world champs when I first started working with her, she has come on technically so well since then, all we need is for her to put it together in the worlds next time round."

The chemistry between these two owes much to the fact that both athlete and coach are so grounded. "She has got many assets," added Arnold. "She is hard worker, no doubt about that. And probably one of the most normal athletes I have ever had to work with. I always say to the rest of the athletes that I work with 'Why can't you be more like Eilidh?'. Because she gets on with the work and doesn't faff about. She is the most down-to-earth person. You always get what you deserve and she has got a fair number of medals - which she richly deserves.

"She feels a bit sensitive about her age - God knows why - but she is still highly motivated," he added. "If you look at [Linford] Christie, he retired when he was 36, [Colin] Jackson retired when he was 36, and he was still running really quick then. it is all about state of mind really and if she is still motivated enough then she will do Tokyo."

Arnold may not be the type to mince his words but he feels rather mis-represented by a local newspaper article which said that UK Athletics' funding switch had led to both him and his assistant coach James Hillier being made redundant. In fact, while an offer to stay on full-time through to the World Championships in 2017 was rebuffed, he was quite happy to scale back his hours. The only criticisms he has are a generalised feeling that UK Athletics should have done more with the lottery money it has received over the years to foster young talent.

"I haven't criticised funding cuts, because I have known that this was coming for 12 months, but there are always challenges, not least due to the retirement of star athletes," said Arnold. "I just wish they would do a bit more to further the development of young athletes but that is something which has always been said. UK Athletics have as much money as they ever had - when I was performance director and head coach in Birmingham back in 1994 we found out that we were trading insolvently. Since that very first cheque we had when I was there on September 14, 1997, the money they have had since then has been quite substantial but the results haven't been too much better since we were penniless, which is naturally disappointing."

With Doyle as one of its trailblazers, and Laura Muir and Callum Hawkins picking up the baton, Arnold could hardly fail to be impressed by the improved results being generated by Scottish athletes in recent times. "Scotland has had some great athletes in the past and It is pleasing there seems to be a few coming through now," he said. "It is about time."