Athletics: Charters brothers bid for New Year Sprint

From right, Steven, Ryan and Jordan Charters. All three believe they have a good chance of claiming the New Year Sprint.
From right, Steven, Ryan and Jordan Charters. All three believe they have a good chance of claiming the New Year Sprint.
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As family-friendly sports go, there can be few that surpass the 147-year-old New Year Sprint and its supporting events.

They cater for both men and women, young and old, and boys and girls, with even events for those as young as nine.

But this year marks a new first for the famous professional athletics festival.

Three brothers have entered the main race, the 110 metres handicap, the heats of which take place for the first time on the all-weather surface at Meadowmill, East Lothian on Wednesday, December 30, with the cross-ties and final two days later at Musselburgh Racecourse on New Year’s Day.

On their marks and determined to make even more sporting history by bagging the £4000 first prize or one of the big supporting prizes are the Charters brothers from Dolphinton.

The eldest, Steven, 29, is a biology teacher at Knightswood in Glasgow. Ryan, 23, teaches PE at Holy Rood High in Edinburgh and Jordan, 20, works full-time with his father George as a painter and decorator.

George has already made his sporting mark in basketball, having earned Scottish junior caps when he played for Dalkeith Saints, but he has long been a committed support staff member for his sons in their chosen sport.

He would love to see all three make the final, as would their mum Donna and their sister Marie, who all expect to be there to cheer them on.

All three boys attended Peebles High School and dabbled in rugby for a while and eldest son Steven even played some basketball with Tweeddale Tigers. He also trained for a time with another famous Peebles FP, European 1500 metres medallist Chris O’Hare, under the guidance of Edinburgh AC distance coach Dave Campbell before moving on to train for sprinting with Innerleithen coach Charlie Russell.

“I’ve won quite a few Border sprints but I’ve never even made the final at New Year and that’s the one you want to win, it definitely carries the biggest accolade,” said Steven. “To have your name on that trophy, you have it for a lifetime.”

Steven also believes it’s the hardest race to win. “It’s because of the time of year, the conditioning required and the track conditions – it’s pretty tough,” he explained.

“I’ve only twice made it to the cross-ties (semi-finals.)”

It could be even tougher this time too as Steven, off 8.0 metres, has been drawn in the same heat eight as Jordan, whose start is 11.00m – their father actually drew the names out of the drum at the draw – but at least under the modern rules defeat does not mean curtains as fastest losers also progress and could come through other cross-ties to the final.

Yet sprinting is not even the first priority for Jordan but the long jump, in which event, under the guidance of coach John Scott, he has already reached a useful 7.19 metres. “My targets are to get fast, jump further and earn some pocket money,” he said.

“I grew up doing the Border Games. I’m injury free for the first time and in the best shape of my life,” said the man who was fourth at his first attempt when Ben Robbins took the crown three years ago.

“I thought I was going to win then but fell away in the last 20 metres – I did manage to finished second in the 60m,” added this year’s winner of the Telford College Apprentice of the Year Award who may go to the World Skills final in Abu Dhabi next year.

Ryan, who was seventh in 2010 then fifth in 2011, was the third name out of the drum in heat one, where he is also off 11.00 metres and from which, provided he is fully recovered from injury, he must have a strong chance of progressing.

“I quite enjoy the buzz about it – I was teaching in Rothesay for a year and couldn’t train but now I’m back I’ve got the bug,” said Ryan, who has started an athletics club at Holy Rood HS.

“I definitely believe all three of us can make the final as we’re all running well.”

So will it be a case of all for one and one for all when it comes to divvying up the prize money?

“Oh no, it’s winner takes all!”