Scotland Brave World Class Athletes

25th January 2014

A thrilling Sainsbury’s Glasgow International Match, which included 13 wins for British Athletes, proved the perfect curtain raiser to the indoor season at the Emirates Arena. In amongst the winners were Scottish athletes performing impressively out of the 43 Olympic, Paralympic and world medallists on show, and an exciting 2014 beckons.

In the unique match where GB & NI took on USA, a Commonwealth Select team and, for the first time ever, a Scottish Select team there were five Scottish wins for the home crowd to cheer. Most notable being that of middle distance star Laura Muir (coach: Andy Young) whose 800m win saw her awarded the Sainsbury’s Performance of the day.

However one of the afternoon’s most memorable moments came when 2012 European 800m Champion Lynsey Sharp, coached in 2012 by Dave Sunderland and now by Terrance Mahon, finally received her gold medal in front of an adoring crowd, before hearing the national anthem stood on top of the podium.

Receiving the medal from her father and former sprint great Cameron Sharp, she was in tears as the Emirates Arena erupted in applause at the touching moment.
“It was the end of such an emotional journey and I’m really glad it’s come to an end now and I can move forward,” she said. “I’m really glad I’ve got my medal.”

With 800m success the theme for the day, Muir did not disappoint in taking one of the afternoon’s most popular race victories in a Scottish indoor record and World Indoor qualifying standard. Moving into second at the bell she had a storming final 100m to take the lead and power home in 2.00:94. Cheered by spectators waving Scottish flags, the win bought the house down.

She said: I knew it was probably going to go off a bit quick with the American and Marilyn (Okoro). It was a matter of not letting them get too big of a gap and I knew my closing speed would be really good. I just didn’t let them get too far away then really went for it at the finish.”

To close the competition and claim maximum Great Britain points there were exciting victories for both 4x400 teams, the men spoiling the Bahamian party which was an attempt at the indoor world record.

The British quartet of Luke Lennon-Ford (Linford Christie), Richard Buck (Nick Dakin) Conrad Williams and  Nigel Levine (both Christie) finished impressively in a stadium record of 3.06:27. The women’s four of Meghan Beesley (Nick Dakin), Kelly Massey (Stephen Ball) Laura Wake (Dakin) and Victoria Ohuruogu (Lloyd Cowan) were equally impressive, crossing the line in 3.33:49, also a stadium record. Throw in the fact that both the men’s and women’s Scottish quartets broke their respective national indoor records in finishing third and second respectively, the relays were a fitting end to a great day’s athletics.

The men’s and women’s 60m races proved their usual exciting spectacles and brought maximum points for GB & NI, with a world leading time by James Dasaolu (Steve Fudge) in taking the men’s win, and a dominant performance by Asha Philip (Christine Bowmaker) in the women’s race.

Dasaolu, lining up alongside Dwain Chambers (Rana Reider), broke the line in a stunning 6.50sec, with Chambers second in 6.61.

Of his race, Dasaolu said: “That was a fantastic way to start my season. I almost ran a PB and it was even quicker than I opened with last year. It gives me real confidence I can go even quicker this season; I’m looking forward to it.”

Philip’s victory was even more dominant, putting 0.15 of a second between herself in 7.25 and Commonwealth Select’s Aleen Bailey in 7.40.

She said: “It was a good solid run. I’m proud of the time – obviously it was a bit of a shock as the clock stopped late. But 7.25, I’m happy with.”

Giving a glimpse of more exciting future sprint talent, Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s Desiree Henry (Reider) won the 150m race against a strong field including Natasha Hastings of the USA. Her 17.32 over the rarely run distance was a PB, but more importantly took maximum points for the Commonwealth Select.

She said: I was trying to not think about who I was running against and just focus on myself and I’m extremely happy with the outcome. It gives me confidence and it’s a great was to start the season.”

Holly Bleasdale (Scott Simpson) followed soon after with the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team’s first win of the afternoon, clearing 4.62m in the pole vault, a season’s best and a positive start to 2014 after last years’ injury layoff.
She said: “I didn’t jump the best out there, but I enjoyed it. There’s a few things we can tweak and work on now because I felt a bit rusty today. But, first competition after coming back from warm weather camp, I’m in a really good place and looking forward to the rest of indoors.”

Another jumper enjoying her first event back was Britain’s Shara Proctor (Reider) who took maximum points in the long jump with a 6.59m leap and she was pleased with her season opener.
“I’m happy to get my first win of the year, but I just need to go back to the drawing board and fix little glitches I had,” she said. 

“It’s my first meet, so I didn’t expect too much, I just wanted to come out here and have some fun.”

Fellow Brit JJ Jegede (Peter Stanley), competing for the Commonwealth Select, also had fun, winning the long jump with 7.93m.

“I’m really happy. As an opener that’s really good considering my PB is 8.05m; I’m pleased with that. The plan now is to nail the Commonwealth and European standards,” he said.

“I love home competitions and I love the atmosphere; it was great to be in front of the Glasgow crowd – they didn’t just support Scotland they supported the British athletes too which was great!”
GB & NI team captain William Sharman (Jerzy Maciukiewicz) was just denied a win in the men’s 60m hurdles with USA’s Jeff Porter out-dipping him at the line in 7.66 – Sharman’s 7.67 a personal best.
Sharman said: It was quite good. I had a good start but then I hit a couple of hurdles and was knocked off balance. I’m glad to have the first race out of the way and done.

“In my captain’s speech I told my teammates to believe in themselves and to feel part of a special team.”

Just moments later it was time for Britain’s Tiffany Porter (Reider) – wife of the men’s race winner – to take to the same event, although her result wasn’t quite what she had hoped for.

Smacking the first hurdle, she lost ground and eventually the race to Nia Ali of the USA, although she recovered well for second place in 8.32sec.

“I love running here, the crowd are great, the facilities are great and the energy is amazing,” said Porter. “I’m just disappointed I couldn’t put on a better show but hopefully I didn’t disappoint many people.”
In the men’s 3000m there was an impressive run from Britain’s Andy Vernon (Nick Bideau), who almost staged a shock result ahead of USA’s Bernard Lagat, but the 39 year old American rallied to take the win in a swift 7.49:83 – dragging the determined Vernon to a well deserved World Indoor qualifying time of 7.50:10.
A delighted Vernon said: “I’m hoping to go to the World Indoors – I’ve got the qualifying time now, so that’s stage one done.

“It’s the trials in two weeks’ time so hopefully I’ll be good enough to finish in the top two there. Then it’s Birmingham before I’ll hopefully head to Poland.”
The men’s 1500m proved to be one of the most exciting races of the afternoon, again seeing Scottish success with a roof-raising win for Chris O’ Hare (Steve Gulley). In a blistering last lap, O’Hare vied for the win over the closing strides alongside Great Britain’s Charlie Grice (Jon Bigg) but held on to win with 3.48:62. Grice was pipped for second by fast-finishing Kenyan James Magut, but the race between the two Brits was the highlight of the run-in.
O’Hare said: “It was really tough, those finishes are always quite nail-biting but it was good to give everybody a good show. I thought with 100m to go, I’ve just got to keep my form and I’ll get it. I took a quick peak back with 50m to go and thought they’re closer than I thought, but today I got it by hair.”
The Scottish run continued in 600m, as Guy Learmonth (George Gandy) showed maturity beyond his years biding his time before closing down Andrew Osagie (Craig Winrow) in the home straight to snatch a surprise victory, much to the delight of the Glasgow fans.

Learmonth said: “We’re here and we’re a nation that want to perform on the day. We don’t just want to turn up for the tracksuit, but we want to represent Scotland with great pride and honour. The roar of the crowd on the start line was absolutely unbelievable.”
Further Scottish success came by way of a dominant sprint victory by Libby Clegg (Keith Antoine) in the women’s T12 60m in 7.97, a new personal best. 15 year old Erin McBride (Robert Roberts) competing for GB & NI was a solid second in 8.39, also a personal best.
Post race Clegg commented: “Obviously I’m really happy with a personal best, because it’s an improvement on last year, but I reckon we can go quicker. We’ve gone sub-eight seconds and it felt easy.”

The men’s 400m proved a close race with Chris Brown competing for the Commonwealth Select just taking the win in 45.93 ahead of Great Britain & Northern Ireland’s Nigel Levine (Christie). Local favourite Jamie Bowie (Piotr Haczek) was third in a PB of 46.65, the fastest run by a Scot since Brian Whittle was treading the boards.

Bowie was delighted with his run, which was cheered by the Emirates Arena crowd:
“It was hard at the end trying to hold on, but a big PB so I’m really happy with that. It’s great to be tested this early in the season. Last week was a really low-key event, now it’s 5000 people. It’s getting closer to Hampden! There was a huge roar on the start line – the atmosphere was just great.”
Scotland had earlier received their first maximum points of the match thanks to Stef Reid’s (Reider) F44 long jump victory with a best of 4.83m.
She said: “The crowd were awesome - I love starting my year at the Sainsbury’s Glasgow International Match and it’s great to see Scottish Athletics pushing the sport.

“It was my first Scottish vest and really overwhelming to pull that on to compete today.”

In the men’s T44 60m, USA’s world record holder Richard Browne was the victor, but wasn’t happy with his performance where he was pushed by the Commonwealth Select’s Arnu Fourie to a 7.25 victory.

He said: “I’m not happy at all, I had to work. The start was horrible – I stumbled a little bit. I’ve got a longer blade this year and I’m working really hard to get my leg through.”
In the women’s 1500m there was a win for Kenya’s Hellen Obiri competing for the Commonwealth Select. Scotland won the home nations battle with Josephine Moultrie (William Parker) setting an indoor PB of 4.16:94 ahead of fourth placed Jemma Simpson (Mark Rowland) for Great Britain.

In other events, USA’s Francena McCorory won the women’s 400m race in 51.79, whilst Scottish team captain and world medallist Eilidh Child (Malcolm Arnold) finished fourth. Kim Collins won the men’s 150m in 15.84sec ahead of Great Britain’s James Ellington (Reider) and in the high jump Britain’s Robbie Grabarz was third with a best height of 2.24m.
The Sainsbury’s Glasgow International Match result saw the Commonwealth Select take the win ahead of GB & NI with 62 points to 59, the British relay wins proving not quite enough to take the title. The USA finished third with 53 points, with Scotland fourth on 40 points.