Scottish selection headache as young athletes impress

Jake Wightman secured a second Commonwealth Games time
Jake Wightman secured a second Commonwealth Games time
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Amid a welter of fine performances by Scotland’s aspiring athletes on the second last weekend before the Glasgow 2014 team is finalised, three events in particular stand out: the men’s 1500 metres, the women’s long jump and hammer.

No sooner had Edinburgh AC’s Jake Wightman claimed his second mandatory Commonwealth Games qualifying standard when he won the 1500 metres in 3:41.40 at a British Milers Club meeting at Manchester’s Sports City track on Saturday night, former EAC clubman and Capital resident Mark Mitchell (Forres) staked his claim with a time of 3:41.95, his second qualifier, in Belgium.

With Chris O’Hare (EAC) already in the team and Bristol Scot Dave Bishop sitting on two sub 3:40.00 times, it looks as if the Scottish selectors might have to make a difficult choice between 19-year-old European junior 1500m champion Wightman and 26-year-old former Scottish 800 and 1500 champion Mitchell.

But the selectors do have some discretion and can take into account head-to-head encounters, championship performances and future potential.

Wightman’s time was a new personal best by 0.6 secs and comfortably inside his target of 3:42.20, while Mitchell cut his time by .01 secs.

At the same Manchester meeting, European champion Lynsey Sharp (EAC), who has already secured her two necessary times, impressed in winning the 800 in 2:01.67, her fastest time this year.

Only one Hampden place is still available in the women’s long jump and three athletes are chasing it, with Faye Nicholson (EAC) joining the fray after leaping 6.14 metres, just 6cms short of the CGQ, to win the East District title at Pitreavie.

Club-mate Gillian Cooke dramatically grabbed her first qualifying standard at Bedford International Games on Saturday, finishing second with a leap of 6.22m with a kindly following wind of +1.2mps.

But a further bid to complete the task in one weekend failed at Bedford yesterday when she could only reach 5.98m, finishing behind the third candidate Lisa Ferguson (EAC), who has one CGQ to her name – exactly 6.20m – but could manage only 6.06m yesterday.

Nicholson also attempted to go over 6.20m at Grangemouth on Saturday, but was well back on 5.93m.

Edinburgh student Claire Taylor was delighted with her form for Scottish Universities, winning the 400m hurdles in 61.4 secs, an improvement of one-and-a-half seconds on her previous best, and also finishing second to Hazel Ross (Scotland Select) in the 100m hurdles where she clocked another best of 14.3 secs.

Cameron Tindle (EAC), a 15-year-old Berwick schoolboy, was third in the senior 200 metres in 21.72 secs, just behind Ryan Oswald (Pitreavie) in second place.

Three of Scotland’s outstanding four young hammer-throwers clashed in the BIG meeting, with Rachel Hunter narrowly second with 62.13m, ahead of Falkirk’s Myra Perkins with 61.32m, her second CGQ, and Kimberley Reed (EAC) who was just below the 61.00m standard with 60.78m.

Perkins followed this up with 61.14m in a second competition yesterday, just behind Hunter (61.77m), while Reed threw 60.82m.

“I was much more consistent this time,” said Reed.

Scotland’s 2010 captain James Campbell, meanwhile, managed his second CGQ in the javelin, throwing 70.36m yesterday.