Liz McColgan

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Liz McColgan-Nuttall
Personal information
Birth nameElizabeth Lynch
Born (1964-05-24) 24 May 1964 (age 58)
Dundee, Scotland
Height1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)
Weight45 kg (99 lb; 7.1 st)
Country Great Britain
Event(s)10,000 metres
3,000 metres
ClubDundee Hawks

Elizabeth Nuttall MBE (née Lynch, formerly McColgan; born 24 May 1964) is a Scottish former middle-distance and long-distance track and road-running athlete. She won the gold medal for the 10,000 metres at the 1991 World Championships, and a silver medal over the same distance at the 1988 Olympic Games. She was also a two-time gold medallist over the distance at the Commonwealth Games, as well as winning the 1992 World Half Marathon Championships, 1991 New York City Marathon, 1992 Tokyo Marathon and 1996 London Marathon. Her 10,000 metres best of 30:57.07 set in 1991, moved her to second on the world all-time list at that time and stood as the Scottish record until 2022, when it was broken by her daughter Eilish McColgan. Her marathon best of 2:26:52 in 1997, stood as the Scottish record until 2019.

Early life

Born Elizabeth Lynch,[1] she grew up in the Whitfield area of Dundee[2] and was a pupil of St Saviour's RC High School.

She joined her local athletics club, Hawkhill Harriers, aged 12 on the advice of her PE teacher Phil Kearns[3][4] Coached by Harry Bennett, she soon discovered a talent for distance running and won her first UK titles aged 18.[3] Following Bennett's death, McColgan coached herself in preparation for the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in 1986.[3] From 1987 to 1989 McColgan was coached by John Anderson, including at the 1988 Olympics, after which she coached herself to the world 10,000m title and to wins in the London, New York and Tokyo marathons. She then met Grete Waitz, who coached her from 1992 to her retirement in 1996.[3]

Athletics career

At the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, as Liz Lynch, she took the gold medal in the 10,000 metres, finishing nearly 12 seconds ahead of the nearest competitor and giving the host country its only gold medal in athletics.[5] Earlier that year, she had won the NCAA National Championship in the mile representing Alabama Crimson Tide in the American collegiate Indoor Track and Field national championships. In 1987, she won a silver medal at the World Cross Country Championships in Warsaw representing Scotland (Great Britain would not send a unified team to the World Cross until 1988). She finished behind Annette Sergent of France but ahead of Ingrid Kristiansen. In September, she improved the UK 10,000m record to 31:19.82 while finishing fifth at the World Championships in Rome, in a race won by Kristiansen.

In 1988, now competing as Liz McColgan, she improved her own UK record with 31:06.99 in July to defeat Kristiansen in Oslo. Almost three months later, she ran 31:08.44 to win an Olympic silver medal in the inaugural women's 10,000 metres at the Seoul Olympics. She was defeated by the Soviet Union's Olga Bondarenko. McColgan won silver in the 3,000 metres at the World Indoor Championships in 1989. In January 1990, she became the only Scot to successfully defend a Commonwealth title at the 1990 games in Auckland, New Zealand, when she again took the gold in the 10,000 metres, as well as bronze in the 3,000 metres.[2] She missed the rest of the 1990 season due to pregnancy, giving birth to her daughter (future Olympic athlete) Eilish in November. Nike dropped her the moment she told them she was pregnant.[6]

Just six weeks after her daughter Eilish was born, she contested an international 5 km race in Florida and won a bronze medal at the 1991 World Cross Country Championships. In June 1991, she ran her lifetime best for the 10,000 m with 30:57.07 in Hengelo, becoming only the third woman to run under 31 minutes, moving to second on the world all-time list behind Kristiansen and narrowly ahead of Bondarenko. This stood as the Scottish record until it was broken by Eilish in 2022.[7] In August 1991, she won gold in the 10,000 metres at the World Championships in Tokyo, Japan.[8] In November of that year at the New York City Marathon, her first marathon, she won with a time of 2:27.23, breaking the record for a debut marathon by three minutes.[9]

In March 1992, McColgan struggled to a 41st-place finish at the World Cross Country Championships in Boston. Then, in the summer, she finished fifth in the 10,000m final at the Barcelona Olympics. In September, she won the inaugural World Half Marathon Championships, where she also helped the British team claim the silver medal in the team competition. Two months later, she won the Tokyo International Women's Marathon.

After more than two years struggling with injuries, McColgan finished fifth in the 1995 London Marathon and sixth in the 10,000m final at the 1995 World Championships in Gothenburg. In 1996, she won the London Marathon in a time of 2 hours, 27 minutes and 54 seconds, before finishing 16th in the marathon at the Atlanta Olympics. She finished second in the London Marathons of 1997 and 1998, running her career-best time of 2:26:52 in 1997. She gave her medal to a youngster in the crowd after the 1997 event.[10]

McColgan retired from competing in August 2001 when she fractured a bone in her foot while training for selection for the 2002 Commonwealth Games.[11] However, she returned in 2004 to win the Scottish Indoor Championships 3000 metres (in 9:31). In 2007, she ran the London Marathon, finishing 25th in 2:50:38. She also completed the 2010 New York Marathon in 3:10:54. In 2017, she completed the inaugural Stirling Scottish Marathon in 3:18:32.

Personal life

In 1987 she married Northern Irish athlete Peter McColgan; they had five children together - Eilish, Martin, Eamonn, Kieran and Orla. The couple separated in November 2010 and finalised their divorce in March 2013.[12][13] On 18 January 2014, McColgan married John Nuttall,[14] a coach who has worked as head of endurance coaching for British Athletics and now coaches in Qatar, in the process becoming step-mother to Nuttall's son, para-athlete Luke Nuttall.[15]

McColgan's eldest daughter, Eilish, is also a distance runner. Eilish broke her mother's Scottish 10,000 metre record in 2022,[7] and emulated her mother by winning the 10000 metres at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.


In December 1991, McColgan appeared on This Is Your Life[citation needed] and was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year.[16] She was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to athletics in 1992[17] and inducted to the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.[18]


Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing  Scotland
1982 World Cross Country Championships Rome, Italy 71st 4.7 km 16:03
1986 Commonwealth Games Edinburgh, Scotland 1st 10,000 m 31:41.42
1987 World Cross Country Championships Warsaw, Poland 2nd 5.1 km 16:48
1990 Commonwealth Games Auckland, New Zealand 1st 10,000 m 32:23.56
3rd 3,000 m 8:47.66
Representing  Great Britain
1986 European Championships Stuttgart, West Germany 12th 3000 m 9:02.42
7th 10,000 m 31:49.46
1987 World Championships Rome, Italy 5th 10,000 m 31:19.82
1988 Olympic Games Seoul, South Korea 2nd 10,000 m 31:08.44
1989 World Indoor Championships Budapest, Hungary 6th 1500 m 4:10.16
2nd 3000 m 8:34.80
1991 World Cross Country Championships Antwerp, Belgium 3rd 6.4 km 20:28
World Championships Tokyo, Japan 1st 10,000 m 31:14.31
New York City Marathon New York, United States 1st Marathon 2:27:32
1992 World Cross Country Championships Boston, United States 41st 6.4 km 22:21
Olympic Games Barcelona, Spain 5th 10,000 m 31:26.11
World Half Marathon Championships Newcastle, United Kingdom 1st Half marathon 1:08:53
Tokyo Marathon Tokyo, Japan 1st Marathon 2:27:38
1993 World Cross Country Championships Amorebieta, Spain 5th 6.4 km 20:17
London Marathon London, England 3rd Marathon 2:29:37
1995 London Marathon London, England 5th Marathon 2:31:14
World Championships Gothenburg, Sweden 6th 10,000 m 31:40.14
Tokyo Marathon Tokyo, Japan 7th Marathon 2:30:32
1996 London Marathon London, England 1st Marathon 2:27:54
Olympic Games Atlanta, United States 16th Marathon 2:34:30
1997 London Marathon London, England 2nd Marathon 2:26:52
1998 London Marathon London, England 2nd Marathon 2:26:54
2007 London Marathon London, England 25th Marathon 2:50:38
2010 New York City Marathon New York, United States 129th Marathon 3:10:54
2017 Stirling Scottish Marathon Stirling, Scotland 16th Marathon 3:18:32


  1. ^ "Liz McColgan profile at". Sports Reference Olympic Sports. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Injuries force Scotland's most successful female athlete, Liz McColgan, into retirement Fracture is final straw for track queen". The Herald. 11 August 2001. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d "Liz McColgan interview". Run Britain. Archived from the original on 25 April 2012.
  4. ^ Beattie, Geoffrey (16 December 1995). "McColgan's long run from factory to fame". The Independent. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
  5. ^ "Liz McColgan biography". United Kingdom Athletics. Archived from the original on 12 October 2011. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
  6. ^ Bloom, Ben (16 October 2019). "Liz McColgan-Nuttall exclusive - on being dropped by Nike while pregnant and wanting to protect daughter Eilish from online trolls". The Telegraph. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  7. ^ a b Eilish McColgan beats Letesenbet Gidey - and mother Liz's time - as she sets Scottish 10,000m best, BBC, 6 June 2022
  8. ^ Janofsky, Michael (31 August 1991). "TRACK AND FIELD; Super Decathlon Effort Is Just About a Footnote". New York Times. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  9. ^ McG. Thomas Jr., Robert (4 November 1991). "NEW YORK CITY MARATHON; A Brash McColgan Wins With Bold Debut". New York Times. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
  10. ^ "SILVER MEDAL AND A HEART OF GOLD!; MALL FOR NOTHING: Scot McColgan loses marathon crown". Daily Record. 14 April 1997. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  11. ^ "Interview: Liz McColgan, athletics coach and former athlete". The Scotsman. 21 July 2011. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
  12. ^ "Liz McColgan and husband Peter to divorce". The Courier. 23 November 2010. Archived from the original on 3 February 2012. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
  13. ^ "Liz McColgan settles divorce with husband Peter". The Scotsman. 11 March 2013. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
  14. ^ "Athletics star Liz McColgan reveals her new-found happiness as she marries for the second time". Scottish Daily Record. 19 January 2014. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  15. ^ "Hannah Nuttall". University of New Mexico Lobos athletics. 27 April 2020. Retrieved 17 July 2022.
  16. ^ "Sports Personality: Liz McColgan wins in 1991". BBC Sport. 22 November 2013.
  17. ^ United Kingdom list: "No. 52767". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 1991. p. 15.
  18. ^ "Liz McColgan, MBE". Scottish Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved 1 January 2015.

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by BBC Sports Personality of the Year
Succeeded by
Sporting positions
Preceded by Women's 5,000 m Best Year Performance
Succeeded by
Preceded by Zevenheuvelenloop Women's Winner (15 km)
Succeeded by
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