Eilidh Doyle may be Scotland’s most decorated track and field athlete ever but this entire current crop of Scottish athletes is, she firmly believes, the golden generation.

Doyle, who has won Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth silverware, retired from the sport in 2021 and so is now a keen observer of the current group of Scottish athletes who are consistently showing themselves to be amongst the very best in the world.

And during the course of this year, there was one particular performance that stood out for everyone, Doyle included, and has put the individual in pole position to win the Athlete of the Year award at Scottishathletics’ annual awards dinner, which will take place in Glasgow this evening.

“The stand-out moment of this year has to be Josh Kerr becoming world champion,” Doyle says. 

“The World Championships had so many impressive performances by Scots.

“But for Josh to repeat what Jake Wightman had done the year before, by winning the world title, was incredible.”

The Herald: Great Britain’s Josh Kerr celebrates his world gold (Martin Rickett/PA)

Kerr, of course, ensured the men’s 1500m world title remained in Scotland after producing close to a carbon copy of Jake Wightman’s win at the 2022 World Championships.

It was a thrilling victory for the 26-year-old from Edinburgh but one that was well-supported by several other impressive runs by Scottish athletes over the course of the summer.

Nominated for Athlete of the Year alongside Kerr this evening are World Championships finalists Laura Muir, Jemma Reekie and Neil Gourley with Scout Adkin, who finished second in the World Mountain Running Series standings, completing the shortlist.

Furthermore, the Para Athlete of the Year is made up of three world champions in the shape of Sammi Kinghorn, Gavin Drysdale and Ben Sandilands.

And so for Doyle, such strength in depth is why she believes this current group of Scottish athletes is as strong as we’ve ever seen in this country.

“I would say this is a real golden generation both in terms of numbers of athletes who’re being selected for GB and in terms of medals being won,” the 36-year-old former 400m hurdler from Perth says. 

“Now, when you’re watching a major championships, it seems there’s always someone in action.

“Previously, there’d only been a few Scots competing over the course of the week whereas now, it feels like at these major events there’s a Scot in almost every session.

“And it’s absolutely not a case of them going to make up the numbers, they’re very much progressing through the rounds, often right to the finals.

“We’re now consistently expecting Scottish athletes to win medals, which is a really nice place to be.”

The obvious thought when considering the success of these Scots this season is whether they will be able to transfer their recent form into Olympic success.

Doyle knows only too well the pressure of Olympic year having competed at both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games, winning bronze in the 4x400m relay in Brazil.

Of this current contingent, both Kerr and Muir have Olympic medals to their names already – bronze and silver respectively – with both, as well as Reekie, and the trio of para athletes, extremely likely to be contending for Olympic and Paralympic silverware in Paris next summer.

The Herald: Laura Muir

And if there was one piece of advice Doyle would offer her younger compatriots, it’s to resist the temptation to alter too much in the hunt for Olympic success.

“The big thing is don’t change too much, they all just need to build on what they’ve done this year. You have to listen to your body and do everything you can to stay healthy and injury-free,” she says.

“The winter phase is really important because that’s where all the ground work gets done but it’s also the time of year when you can pick up illnesses.

The hardest thing can be to not push things too far and then end up setting yourself back. It can be so easy to just power through because you’re so desperate to continue improving but you can then do more damage to yourself. 

“So train hard but don’t go crazy because if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”

Olympic silverware, and more specifically Olympic gold on the track, is indescribably hard to come by.

The last Scot to win an Olympic track and field title was Allan Wells back in 1980 and while Doyle is quick to point out quite how difficult a task it is to even be in contention for Olympic gold, she’s in little doubt that Olympic silverware will be winding its way back to these shores next summer. The only indecision for her is what colour it will be.

“I think a Scot will win an Olympic medal next summer. And potentially, there absolutely could be a gold medal,” she says.

“The thing with the Olympics, though, is that everyone really ups their game.

“I remember I had a brilliant season in 2016 – I was top three, and winning Diamond Leagues and I went to the Olympics in Rio and ran the kind of time I’d been running all season but I was eighth. That was because the girls I was running against all upped their game. 

“That’s what happens in Olympic year – people do extraordinary things that sometimes don’t go by the form book. Now, there’s no reason why one of those extraordinary performances can’t come from a Scot but the Olympics is always so hard to predict because often, individuals do something really special. 

“I definitely think there’ll be a medal but whether that’ll be gold, we’ll have to see.

“Winning an Olympic medal of any colour is a very hard thing to do but to become Olympic champion is such an incredible achievement and is the absolute pinnacle of our sport.

“But we have a world champion so why could we not also have an Olympic champion?"