Decorated hurdler wins vote to lead 78-strong team into IAAF World Championships

When Eilidh Doyle disembarked the plane on her return from the Monaco Diamond League to find a voicemail on her phone from Neil Black, she was a little concerned.

The message gave nothing away so, when she later made contact with the British Athletics performance director and was told she was being appointed as the captain of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team for the IAAF World Championships, which begin in London next week, she was somewhat taken aback.

“I was really surprised,” says the 30-year-old Scot, who landed the role following a vote among the 78-strong British squad.

“I was a little bit concerned, thinking ‘why is Neil Black phoning me?’. This was quite a shock. It was a really nice moment. I never even thought I’d be someone to be nominated so it was really special.”

Doyle had fully expected the role to go to someone such as Sir Mo Farah or Greg Rutherford but she is only too happy to embrace the captaincy and be a shoulder to lean on or someone to talk to for those that may need it.

“I thought there were other people who would have got it before me,” she adds. “You just look at the team and there’s such a huge depth and experience.

“I think everyone has their own way of dealing with things. Athletics is obviously a very individual sport but I think it’s nice to have the big team, to know that you’re all there, behind each other and supporting each other. I do think it makes a big difference. Obviously I don’t want to step on anybody’s toes but if people want advice or want somebody to chat to then I’ll be there.”

“I never even thought I’d be someone to be nominated so it was really special”

Doyle will compete in the 400m hurdles and the 4x400m relay in London and admits the news adds a huge extra dimension to what was already going to be a landmark occasion.

“I’ve been so excited about this championships anyway,” says the two-time world relay medallist, an event in which she was also part of the Olympic bronze-winning British line-up in Rio last year. “It’s a bit different for me this year. My coaching set-up is different in that I’m being coached by my husband Brian so it’s exciting to have that element to it and to then find out I’m also going there as captain is even more special. It has definitely really added more significance to it. Hopefully it will be a really memorable championships for me.”

Black thoroughly approves of the choice made by his squad.

“I’m delighted for Eilidh,” he says. “She’s a fierce competitor and a fantastic role model for younger athletes in the team. Eilidh is Scotland’s most decorated athlete and has won a medal at all of the majors.

“She knows what it takes to win! That’s the type of athlete and mindset we need to lead us into a home world championships.”

» For more from an interview with Eilidh Doyle, see the July 27 edition of AW magazine