Athletics: Chris O’Hare in pole position for Sopot

Eilidh Child feels she needs more training under her belt. Pic: Getty
Eilidh Child feels she needs more training under her belt. Pic: Getty
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Despite Paula Radcliffe declaring during the Sainsbury’s Birmingham Grand Prix that Scotland’s Chris O’Hare and England’s Charlie Grice should have a “race-off” for the vacant 1500 metres place in the British team for next month’s World Indoor Championships, it would be a shock if O’Hare (Edinburgh AC) was not named to join Trials winner Lee Emanuel (Sheffield) when the team is announced tomorrow.

The 23-year-old Peebles High FP was fifth in the Wannamaker Mile in the Millrose Indoor Games in New York on Saturday night in a time of 3:54.66 secs, not quite as fast as the remarkable Scottish indoor record he set there a year ago of 3:52.98, but comfortably inside the equivalent time he required to qualify for Sopot next month.

After an agonising wait for the official 1500 metres “split” time to be announced, O’Hare heard late last night that he had recorded 3:38.28, which puts him top of the British indoor rankings for this winter and comfortably ahead of both Emanuel and Grice.

In Birmingham, Emanuel clocked 3:38.99 in winning the Trial, while Grice recorded 3:39.94 on Saturday, but O’Hare, chastened by his 2012 experience when he was inexplicably omitted from the British team for the European Championships, is taking nothing for granted and will wait to hear the selectors’ verdict while resuming hard training.

“The last few laps were hard,” he admitted on Saturday.

Eilidh Child (Pitreavie) is also planning to resume hard training after nailing another World qualifying time at Birmingham, where she improved over half a second on her performance the previous week to finish third in the 400 metres in 52.49 secs.

However, that is still over a second outside her best time set in last year’s European Indoors in Gothenburg and Child, though committed to helping the British 4 x 400m relay team, is seriously questioning whether she should pursue 
individual honours in Sopot.

“I need to try to catch up on the few weeks training I missed before Christmas,” she explained.

If ever there was a cast-iron certainty for selection, it must be Kinross middle-distance star Laura Muir, who slashed a huge chunk off her previous best to set a Scottish indoor record of 4:05.35, which only Olympic champion Kelly Holmes has bettered indoors among British athletes.

The Glasgow University vet medicine student now has the luxury of a choice of distance, having already won the 800 metres in the British Trials, 
but it is almost certain to be the latter event she opts for.

Sadly, despite setting a personal best of 1:47.43 for 800 indoors, Guy Learmonth (Lasswade) may miss out on as place as he needed sub-1:47.00 to qualify.

He beat the Trials winner Mukhtar Mohammed and Mutai of Kenya, but allowed too big a gap to open on the leaders: “I knew the pace was fast, but I got stuck behind Mukhtar and couldn’t get past till after the bell,” he explained.

“I’m disappointed not to run to my full potential, but life goes on and I’ll get ready now for the outdoors, which is ultimately more important.”

Capital 400 metres runner Jamie Bowie was another to set an indoor best and his time of 46.58 secs for third in the B 400 and fifth overall should be enough to clinch a place in the relay squad.

Another Edinburgh runner to set a new best was Kris Gauson, who clocked 3:42.75 for 11th in the 1500m field, just outside the Glasgow 2014 target of 3:42.20.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh AC sprinters excelled in the Scottish Under-18 and Under-16 Championships at the Emirates Arena at the weekend.

Cameron Tindle, who is still only 15, won the under-18 60 metres in 7.06 secs and the 200 in 22.33, while Michael Olsen yesterday came close to matching that in the under-16 events, winning the 60m in 7.16 and the 200 in 22.43.