Injured Eilish McColgan looks to future as London Marathon debut shelved again

Eilish McColgan has vowed to return stronger when she eventually makes her London Marathon debut after pulling out of Sunday’s race because of a knee problem.

Event organisers announced on Thursday evening that McColgan had delayed her travel to London to give her the best chance of competing, and would not be attending a scheduled pre-event media conference on Friday morning.

The 32-year-old Scot – who won her first major title in the 10,000m at the 2022 Commonwealth Games – had hoped for good news on the fitness front, but eventually admitted defeat after not being able to shake off the issue in time to run.

“I was sort of hopeful to be honest,” she said on Friday. “I have had a bit of knee bursitis (inflammation) back in February, March time and it was something I could run through, it was painful, but I could run through this.

“With this, I’ve tried, trust me, but it has just got to the point where it is not going to be feasible to run a marathon this weekend.

“There are a few factors that have come together like a bad storm. A whole host of things in the last three weeks have built up and this knee thing has been the final crack in the armour.”

McColgan had planned to run the 2022 London Marathon last October before being forced to withdraw due to a medical issue.

Scotland’s Eilish McColgan (left) poses with her gold medal alongside Liz McColgan
Eilish McColgan’s mother Liz, right, won the London Marathon in 1996 (Jeff Holmes/PA)

McColgan, whose mother Liz won the London Marathon in 1996, said: “I’ve shed a lot of tears in the last two days. It feels tougher because I’ve missed two now, for two entirely different reasons.

“I know how special the London Marathon is. I’ve been there with my mum, watched Paula Radcliffe on TV.

“I’ve had so many people messaged me to say they are running or they are coming out to watch it, raising money for charity.

“There are so many incredible stories around London and this weekend, so to not be a part of it, having trained so hard to be there, it is sad.”

“But all elite athletes go through this. I hope one day I will be on that start line. I know I can run a good marathon and I know one day it will be in London.”

McColgan’s fitness problem started at the Berlin half-marathon in April with a hamstring tear similar to what she had suffered in 2017.

“Initially I thought ‘that’s it London’s out’, but we managed to rehab it,” she said. “We did push it and I felt confident then about London again.

“I have had a few disagreements with London Marathon themselves regarding contractual side of things, and I will speak about that another time.”

In a subsequent post on Instagram, McColgan revealed more details of the dispute with event organisers, saying she was told she would not be allowed to race due to a sponsor clash.

“I do not doubt that the major marathon contracts will be updated in future years, (most likely once the bigger-named athletes are involved.) But it needs to change to give athletes the chance to be financially stable,” she said.

“And they certainly should not be restricted as to what races they can or cannot do, purely because of a logo on their chest.”

Eilish McColgan during the Vitality London 10,000m road race
Eilish McColgan was set to lead Britain’s hopes in the women’s race on Sunday (Thomas Lovelock/PA)

Responding in a statement, London Marathon event director Hugh Brasher said: “The London Marathon is attracting and continues to attract the greatest athletes in the world.

“To achieve this, we have balanced the needs of our athletes, our sponsors, our broadcast partners and the governing bodies to enable us to ensure the rewards to all parties are maximised.

“We understand the massive disappointment and emotional stress that getting injured puts on any athlete. We are so sorry that Eilish is not able to be on the start line on Sunday and we wish her all the very best for a speedy recovery.

“We won’t be making any further comment today as we believe that face to face conversations are always the best way to understanding and we will be talking to Eilish later this weekend.”

McColgan confirmed there was “nothing serious” in her knee injury, with no bone, cartilage, or ligaments problem, but an impingement in the fat pad causing pain.

As well as the physical demands on her body, McColgan also had a lot to think about regarding the financial impact of not being able to run in London.

“I haven’t sat down and worked out the numbers, I don’t really want to do that either,” she said. “It’s part and parcel of what we have to go through, but it 100 per cent does add to that the mental pressure.

“I have to just be sensible about it and know that this is for the longer term, take a little bit (of time), skip this weekend, let my knees heal and get back to being fully 100 per cent healthy again.

“Then I am sure when a big opportunity arises, hopefully I will be ready for it again.”