Athletics: Scots struggle in Birmingham

Eilidh Child at the Alexander Stadium
Eilidh Child at the Alexander Stadium
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Scotland’s male middle distance contingent suffered a bad day at the office in the Birmingham Grand Prix yesterday as the search for IAAF World Championships standards goes on.

Edinburgh athlete Jake Wightman was competing in his first track race on British soil since last year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, but will want to move on quickly after running his slowest 1500m for nearly two years.

British indoor 800m champion Guy Learmonth failed to finish the distance on this occasion, clipping his heels in the pack and falling at the halfway mark.

Wightman had been running strongly in the top-three when the bell went, but he faded badly with 300 metres to go and jogged in last, clocking 3min 45.07sec.

The European 1500m Junior champion has spent much of the spring training at altitude in the United States, but faded away yesterday in a similar fashion to his race at the Prefontaine Classic last month.

“Just coming off from altitude, I struggled. I’m fit, fitter than that,” he said. “It happened in Pre and I was hoping it wasn’t going to happen again, but it did. I have to be patient.

“Coming off altitude is always a difficult one, but hopefully I get it right eventually. I felt all right, but all of a sudden it just hit me. I need to work on that.”

The 20-year-old must dip under 3min 36.2sec before the end of the month to be in contention for a place in Beijing at the World Championships, which he has only done once in his career thus far.

“I know I’ve got that world standard in there, it’s just finding it. Before I went to altitude I was in better shape than any point last year,” he said.

“It’s there, but it’s just finding the right race. I’m still going for Worlds, it’s just a matter of getting the standard in time.”

For Lasswade’s Learmonth it was disappointment of another kind. As the field went through 400m in 50.72sec, he got tangled with American Erik Sowinski, and fell.

“I was just trying to stay out of trouble. I was in a good position. He (Sowinski) was running on my shoulder, it was slow,” he said.

“Me and Erik went at the same time and just clipped our heels and unfortunately I went down. It’s really frustrating because I’m in good nick, but it was just one of those things.”

The 23-year-old suffered nothing more than bumps and grazes, but suffered the psychological torment of missing a prized opportunity to hit the Beijing standard of 1min 46sec.

“I’m in 1min 45sec shape,” the Loughborough-based speedster said. “Training for the past two months has been really, really intense.

“The annoying thing is we’re gearing the start of my season to be here. I had a really good speed session on Tuesday and we were coming here to get the job done for the World Championships.

“I don’t think that’s a problem. I need to pick myself up now and get a race before the European Team Champs and we’ll take it from there.”

Elsewhere, Dundee Hawkhill’s Laura Muir carried on her impressive start to the season, running an 800m personal best and bagging another Beijing standard in the process.

She saved her effort for the final 100 metres as she surged past all but world leader Eunice Sum, to clock 2min 0.42sec and claim second place.

Her 4min 0.61sec in Rome four days ago was also a World Championship qualifier for the 1500m, which she is likely to focus on ahead of China.

European 400m hurdles champion Eilidh Child was unable to improve on the 54.84sec she set in Rome on Thursday, and struggled with the wind at Alexander Stadium, finishing fourth in 55.14sec.