Rising Race Walks Star Paul McGrath On His Spanish-Scottish Heritage

Rising race walks star Paul McGrath on his Spanish-Scottish heritage

The 22-year-old won silver in the 20km event at the European Champs on Saturday behind Perseus Karlstrom of Sweden

Rising race walks star Paul McGrath on his Spanish-Scottish heritage

Race walker Paul McGrath has a Scottish father, Irish grandparents and a Spanish mother but was born and raised in Barcelona. The 22-year-old has won European under-20 and under-23 titles and looked on course to win the senior crown in Rome on Saturday (June 8) but he was out-duelled by Perseus Karlstrom of Sweden in the closing stages.

“Maybe next time,” said McGrath. “Perseus was very strong.”

Karlstrom, 34, has won several minor medals at the world championships in the past but took European gold here after covering the 20km course in 79:13 as McGrath clocked 79:31.

Race walker

Due to his Scottish links – his dad was born in Glasgow – McGrath visited the UK many times, especially when he was younger. He is a rising star in Spanish athletics but who would he cheer if Spain played Scotland in football? “I’d hope for a draw,” he smiles.


So strong are his British links, McGrath instantly recognised the name Athletics Weekly and says his surname is pronounced “McGrah” in Scotland but “McGrath” (as in ‘bath’) in Spain. “I have Scottish and Irish blood, so I’m half Scottish, half Irish, half Spanish – or 33%!” he says.

Given his progress, don’t be surprised to see him on global athletics championship podiums in coming years.

Perseus Karlstrom (Getty)

Amid great roadside support in Rome and a decent turn-out in the Stadio Olimpico for the finish, Francesco Fortunato took bronze for Italy in 79:54 as Callum Wilkinson, the sole British representative, was ninth in 81:34.

“It is amazing for me to be back in these types of competitions,” said Wilkinson. “I have sat in a lot of surgeons’ offices over the last couple of years, and them having the honest conversations with me that they weren’t sure if I would be able to get back to this [after injury]. I am delighted that I have. There has been a lot of hard work to get here.”

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