Athletics: Golden weekend for city athletes

Emma Nuttall excelled in the high jump. Picture: Getty
Emma Nuttall excelled in the high jump. Picture: Getty
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SCOTS enjoyed a golden weekend at the Sainsbury’s British Championships and World Trials at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium with three Capital athletes – Chris O’Hare (1500m), Andy Frost (hammer) and Emma Nuttall (high jump) – all grabbing titles on Saturday and Eilish McColgan (3k steeplechase) and Steph Twell (5000m) adding more lustre yesterday.

Together with Andrew Lemoncello’s 10,000 metres title victory in the first session on Friday night that brought the weekend tally to 14 medals, including six gold, an encouraging harvest particularly when you add in the now almost mandatory silver for Eilidh Child in the 400 hurdles, a silver for Emily Stewart (EAC) in the chase and Sarah Warnock’s (EAC) 6.20m C Games long jump qualifier.

Also Jamie Bowie finished fifth in 46.11 in the 400 final with his second PB in three races, while Kirsten McAslan was fifth in the women’s race with a new PB of 52.85.

But it was Edinburgh’s O’Hare, controversially omitted from last year’s European Championships, who made the biggest statement of the meeting and a strong claim for inclusion in the British team for Moscow next month when he won the 1500 metres with a driving finish in 3:51.36 after a really slow first half of the race.

Former training mate Kris Gauson decided to inject some pace with 600 metres to go and that definitely helped O’Hare as the race opened up and the 22-year-old Tulsa University student took over early in the final lap.

“I would hope I’ve done enough (for World selection), but I’ll wait for Tuesday and hopefully they’ll make me a happy boy,” said O’Hare, pictured below, who leads the British rankings with 3:35.37, just .37 sec outside the automatic A qualifying standard.

“If they pick me for the Worlds I’m sure I can go faster – I missed virtually the whole of May through injury.”

Edinburgh Leisure assistant manager Frost took the hammer with a season’s best of 72.28 metres and immediately dedicated the win to his coach Alan Bertram and mother, who both died this year.

“That’s my fourth British title but my first since 2007. I’ve had a lot of injury problems and everything so I’m finally back on top of the podium – I’m chuffed with that.”

“I knew I was in good form,” said Frost who along with partner Susan McKelvie had just spent a week training in Gloucester with their new coach Lorraine Shaw, the former Commonwealth champion.

“It’s been a tough year for the two of us. My coach (Bertram) died in May and I lost my Mum a few weeks after that and hopefully she’s proud of that one.”

McKelvie went on to take bronze in the women’s hammer with a slightly disappointing throw of 60.92m.

Nuttall’s win was the biggest surprise as the 21-year-old Canada-based Edinburgh athlete sailed over a new best of 1.87 metres to outclass the field.

“I wish it had come earlier and I could have been at the European Under-23s in Finland this week,” said a delighted Nuttall, who like Frost bagged another Commonwealth Games qualifying standard, though the World standard of 1.92m was out of reach.

“My outdoor season’s not really gone as well as I’d hoped so to come out and jump that is great.

“I love jumping here and in beautiful conditions and I’m glad I did it with a personal best,” said the Trinity Western history student whose previous best was 1.86m but who has struggled with her form this season and had a best of only 1.81m.

Even in this competition she knocked the bar down at her opening height of 1.70m but she then cleared 1.77m and 1.80m first time and after a mini crisis at 1.83m which she cleared with her third try she sailed over 1.87m first time and had two very good attempts at 1.90m.

“I’ve got a bit of work to do but I want to be jumping 1.90m plus at the Commonwealth Games. It’s only the second time I’ve attempted 1.90m. It’s an amazing feeling to be getting back into the flow of things. I’m really happy with that,” she said.

Nuttall expressed disappointed that clubmate Jayne Nisbet missed the event through injury: “It’s so sad that Jayne’s not here but I hope she’s back for the Scottish (next month).”

Eilidh Child (Pitreavie) was fairly disgusted with her run in the 400 metres hurdles and never looked like getting on terms with her nemesis, Londoner Perri Shakes-Drayton, who clocked 54.36 to score her 14th consecutive success over her Scottish rival.

Yet Child clocked another World A standard qualifier, 54.90, which would have been a Scottish record before this season.

Two more medallists were Kirsty Law, a silver in the discus, and Kirsty Yates (EAC) a bronze in the shot while David Smith struck bronze in the high jump (2.19m).