Athletics: Timely record-breaking displays by Scots

Mark Dry
Mark Dry
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Two Scottish athletes took decisive steps at the weekend towards being chosen for next month’s London Olympics.

While Eilidh Child (Pitreavie) took advantage of near ideal conditions in Geneva on Saturday to smash her own Scottish record for the 400 metres hurdles, it was former Capital hammer-thrower Mark Dry who stole the show at the Scottish National Championships at Scotstoun yesterday with a championship record of 74.59 metres and his third Olympic qualifying B standard.

Child’s time of 54.96 secs took 0.2 sec off her own record set in 2010, is a UK Athletics A qualifying standard and the best by a British athlete this year ahead of Perri Shakes-Drayton, who ironically was unable to run through injury in the Rome Diamond League meeting denied to Child last Thursday.

Child, who races again in Paris Montreuil tomorrow night, now need only finish in the top two at the UK Trials in Birmingham in three weeks time to clinch her Olympic place.

Burghead’s Dry, competing in the colours of Shettleston Harriers though now based in Loughborough, added over a metre to the previous meeting best set in 1976 by another Capital star Chris Black, who that year went on to finish seventh in the Montreal Olympics.

Former Edinburgh Southern Black, who recently had a kidney removed, was there yesterday to watch the man he formerly coached surpass his meeting record four times.

Yet Dry was disappointed – he had been hoping to break Black’s 30-year-old Scottish National record of 75.40m.

“I’m getting so close and it was all set up to do it, what with Chris being there as well,” said Dry, who was brought up near RAF Kinloss in Morayshire where both his parents were pilots, represented Scotland in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi but has improved dramatically since he moved south to Loughborough to be near his present coach.

“I’ve thrown over 74 metres four times in today’s series whereas I only managed the B standard once in each series at the previous two meetings,” said Dry, who must now have an outstanding chance of claiming an Olympic place as his nearest rival England’s Alex Smith has not reached the B standard this year.

His close Scottish rival and team-mate in Delhi, Andy Frost, was hobbling around with a stick yesterday and unable to compete. “I should never have thrown at Loughborough,” said Frost who faces keyhole surgery to fix his knee.

Frost’s partner Susan McKelvie (AC) retained her women’s hammer title on Saturday with a season’s best of 63.10m.

Apart from Dry, no one else on view on the second day of the meeting displayed any 2012 credentials but the young talent on view suggests the future could be much brighter. Guy Learmonth (Lasswade), only just turned 20 and preparing for an 800m race at the Bislett Games on Thursday, held off a trio of talented teenagers to win the 400m in 48.0 secs, his second personal best in two days.

“That last 150 metres was hard,” he said after battling into the wind to pull away from 18-year-old Jay Younger (Edinburgh AC), with Antony Young (Pitreavie) third and Ben Robbins (EAC), who had clocked a new best of 49.67 in his heat, seventh.

Two 18-year-olds finished first and second in the 200, the Commonwealth Youth Games champion Tom Holligan (EAC) displaying impressive power to win in 21.31 and complete a fine sprint double after his 100m win on Saturday.

“I can’t believe my time,” said Holligan, who was chased up the home straight by newcomer Blair McCallum, the son of former Edinburgh Southern and Scotland decathlon star Stewart McCallum, whose time of 21.84 was remarkable considering the Radley College schoolboy was playing rugby until recently and was not allowed to compete in athletics.

Holligan, whose target is a place in the World Junior Championships in Barcelona, was helped by the fact that the headwind had dropped to zero, having been as much as 5.5m per second against on Saturday. Kirsten McAslan (Sale), who also wants a World Junior place, emulated her Edinburgh mother by winning the women’s 400m in 54.77.

Fiona (nee Hargreaves) ran the 400 for Scotland in the 1986 Commonwealth Games but never won a national title while her father Ewan and grandfather Jim both represented Scotland.

Gateshead-based Lisa Ferguson (EAC) took the long jump with a personal best of 6.15m and was second to sprint double winner Kathryn Christie (Banchory) in the 100, while Canada-based Emma Nuttall (EAC) took the high jump title for the first time with a third time leap of 1.80 to defeat clubmate Jayne Nisbet.

Allan Hamilton (EAC) added 6cm to his best long jump with 6.39m, for silver behind John Carr (7.49m) while the former Edinburgh University star Mark Mitchell (Forres) achieved the first 800/1500 double since 1923.