Athletics: O’Hare makes history as Scots have field day abroad

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Capital star Chris O’Hare (Edinburgh AC) has become the first Scottish track athlete to capture a prestigious American National Collegiate title when he defeated a formidable field including the holder, Miles Batty (Brigham Young), to win the NCAA indoor one mile at the Jackson Indoor Arena in Boise, Idaho, on Saturday.

The 21-year-old from West Linton, who is on an athletics scholarship at Tulsa University, Arizona, went one better than last year with an assured performance, leading from start to finish and holding off fellow Briton Rich Peters (Boston) in 4min 01.66sec, with Batty, who has a best of 3:54.54, third in 4:01.86 and Irish star David McCarthy (Providence) back in ninth place.

O’Hare had qualified in third place in his heat on Friday in 4:04.24, conserving his energy for the big test the following day.

“It was my mum Gillian’s birthday and I couldn’t be home to give her a hug or a present so it was nice to give her this win,” said the Peebles High School FP.

Former Commonwealth champion Meg Ritchie, who won an indoor shot putt title in 1983 and the outdoor shot and discus titles in 1982, is the only Scot to have captured an NCAA division one title before.

“It’s a fantastic performance and the best ever by an athlete I’ve worked with,” said O’Hare’s former coach Dave Campbell.

Tulsa college coach Steve Gully said he was thrilled: “I’d give Chris an A+ for his race – he wanted to stay out of trouble and he did that – he didn’t want to pass anyone late on and he worked the tactics to perfection.”

O’Hare, who gave Tulsa their first ever national title, will now go back and prepare for the outdoor season after which he hopes to return home and bid for a place in the British team for the London Olympics at the UK Trials in Birmingham in June.

Following her clubmate O’Hare, Emma Nuttall (Edinburgh AC) became the second Scottish athlete to win a national collegiate title at the weekend when she won the Canadian Universities high jump championship in Winnipeg.

Nuttall (Trinity Western, Vancouver) cleared a season’s best 1.82 metres and went on to have three close tries at a new personal best of 1.85m.