SINCE walking into Pitreavie Amateur Athletics Club as a nine-year-old more interested in swimming, it has been an incredible quarter of a century for Eilidh Doyle.

A 400 metres hurdles European champion. A three-time Commonwealth Games silver-medalist, which included a spine-tingling lap of honour in Glasgow seven years ago. A 4x400m Olympic bronze-medalist in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

And there's been a whole lot more besides.

Eilidh is Scotland's most decorated track and field athlete of all time, made history in 2018 by becoming the first female to carry Scotland's flag at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, and has captained the British Athletics team at a World Championships.

It's a roll of honour that she could never have dreamt of when she first went along to Pitreavie to keep her elder sister company, and one she can look back on with justifiable pride after announcing her retirement from the sport.

Mum-of-one Eilidh, 34, revealed her decision to hang up her spikes earlier this month and was immediately inundated with well-wishers, from the likes of Sir Chris Hoy and Judy Murray, former team-mates and the sport's governing bodies, to fans who have watched her reach the highest levels in the sport.

While the announcement may have caught some off guard with the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics around the corner this summer, the Perth-born athlete said that it had been something that she had planned for a long time.

Eilidh spoke to Press Sport about her retirement and, when asked if she could ever have imaged what she would achieve when she first started wearing Pitreavie's colours, she said: "Never. Even at that point, I was quite interested in swimming, and I always thought that if I was ever going to be good at a sport, it would always be swimming. I actually went more to keep my big sister company and then enjoyed it from there on in.

"It's just crazy how that became the sport that I ended up following and the sport that I ended up having such success in. It's crazy to think back that that was 25 years ago that I joined Pitreavie, and I'm still delighted to be a member of them and wear those colours.

"All these medals and moments that have come since then is just crazy."

When asked about how she came to the decision that the time was right to step away from athletics, she explained: "Since I decided exactly when I was going to announce it, I've been kind of counting down and just wanting to get it out there and make it public.

"The season is well under way so you start getting messages from people who are asking, when are you opening up, when are you going to be racing, and you don't want to lie. So I've had to fob a few people off and be like, 'Oh I'll be doing stuff in June', without really lying but without honestly telling the truth!

"It's nice to finally have out it there and I can have honest conversations with people.

"If I was honest, I remember coming back after 2018, the Commonwealth Games and the Gold Coast, and I remember that that had been such an amazing trip but also quite draining.

"I remember coming back and being pretty exhausted from it. Brian, my husband, and I had gone away just for a weekend to reset for the rest of the season, and I said to him that I'd be pretty happy to retire off the back of this, I'm really happy with my career and that would be a real high to go out on.

"But the Europeans was just around the corner, and then the European indoors were the next year in Glasgow, and I really wanted to have another chance to compete in Scotland.

"It was something that was appealing in the end but I think when you first think about retirement, or you say it out loud, I think that's almost the beginning of the end because you've already had that thought in your mind that, OK, I'm probably going to be retiring at some point soon, so your motivation and your desire kind of disappears.

"It was nice when I had the time off when I was pregnant (with her son, Campbell) because it meant I could step away from the sport a little bit but not retire, not have that complete commitment away from it.

"I was really motivated to get back after having Campbell because I really just wanted to have a target to get back physically, and that was Tokyo. I thought that would be a really good target to set myself to try and get back and be able to compete.

"If truth be known, had I made Tokyo 2020, and if everything had gone ahead and gone to plan, I probably would've retired after that, but there's just been this uncertainty and unknown for this last year or so."

Eilidh continued: "My motivation and my drive has been up and down throughout the whole time, and really for me to do myself justice, I wouldn't be giving myself a fair chance to go out and do things when my heart's not truly in it.

"It was just over the last couple of months where we'd been chatting about it, and I just said to Brian, I think I'm done. I think I'm ready to step away because that appeal as well to go away and race just now is not what it used to be with everything that's going on.

"The fact that if I had made Tokyo, I would be going away myself and not being able to take Campbell, my son, with me, all these things just changed my mindset really. That's what it came down to.

"It was really my head rather than physically not being able to keep going."

She added: "I've got a bit of pride when it comes to my performances, and I think if I was to go out and compete and only really be half in it, or not quite committed to it properly, I wouldn't do myself justice and I probably would be more angry and annoyed at myself for putting myself in that situation.

"The nice thing about choosing to retire now like I have done is I've done it off my own back and I still really love the sport. I've not come away bitter or annoyed because I've not ran well, or I've been injured. I've been able to step away not quite at the peak of my career but at the time to say I've got as much out of this sport.

"I've loved every minute of it and now it's time to leave happy and not looking at overstaying my welcome."