Jazmine Tomlinson, an 18-year-old Borders student who competes for Edinburgh Athletic Club, made history today when she won the New Year Sprint 110 metres handicap – the first female to do so in the event’s 147-year history.
An 8-1 outsider, despite having won her cross-tie impressively two hours earlier, Jaz held off the 4-6 favourite Ryan Houten (Cardrona) in 11.38 secs from her start of 20.5 metres on a soft grass track at Musselburgh Racecourse.
The pursuing pack were hard on her heels with only .07 sec covering the first five finishers but Tomlinson held on to take the £4000 first prize with Houten, off 9 metres, second for a second year in 11.41 secs and earning £900 and Kieran Reilly (Lasswade AC 8.75m) third in 11.44 secs for a consolation £450.
He was just ahead of second-favourite Jordan Charters (Dolphinton 11m), whose time was 11.45 secs, the same as Callum McWilliam (Giffnock 9.5m) in fifth.
It was an emotional moment for Jedburgh Grammar School FP Tomlinson, as it was for her father Darren, who was eliminated in heat 12 of the sprint preliminaries at Meadowmill in midweek.
Many women have attempted to break the male monopoly, going back to Christine Miller of Jarrow, a contemporary of George McNeill in the 1970s. More than one has gone close, including Commonwealth Games 400 metres runner Gemma Nicol (Dunfermline), who was runner-up in 2007, and Karen Steede (Jedburgh), who was second in 2001.
Tomlinson, who had been in two previous finals and was third last year and is studying for an HNC at Galashiels College said: “I thought the pressure would get to me after I won my cross-tie but it didn’t – I just went for it.”
Tomlinson’s coaches are well-respected Borders trainers Bruce Scott and John Steede, who founded the TLJT club in Jedburgh in 2009 and both were quick to praise their charge for her dedication and hard work in training, almost exclusively on all-weather surfaces, both at Tweedbank Stadium and on the 90 metres strip at Jedburgh.
“She’s very dedicated,” said Steede, a renowned runner himself on the pro circuit and also as a veteran.
“It’s a proud day for Jedburgh and our club and I’m delighted a girl has won at last.”
Scott beamed: “Jaz ran out of her skin – she was tight on the first day but she handles the pressure in the big races so well.”