The Sainsbury’s Glasgow Indoor International was in many ways a great success at the Emirates Arena on Saturday.
The performances, presentation and atmosphere, topped off by some splendid Scottish wins, provided much to please the capacity 5000 crowd and the much wider television audience.
But the meeting was organised and funded largely by British Athletics and their new sponsors and a cost analysis of having a separate Scottish team may answer one question which is not dependent on the outcome of the Independence Referendum – will there be a Scottish team there next year?
It was certainly a propitious start to a momentous year for Scottish sport and for none more welcome than for Lasswade’s Guy Learmonth who in clocking 76.48 seconds not only broke David Jenkins’ 40-year-old National indoor 600 metres record by 1.52 seconds but also came close to taking Dai Green’s British best of 76.22 secs, and would surely have done so but for being baulked en route to the line.
More important for the 21-year-old Loughborough University student, who had had exams all week, was the fact that he achieved a first victory over British 800m No.1 Andrew Osagie, a man who has run so much faster than him over the full distance and who showed his clear annoyance by bashing the advertising hoarding.
Learmonth was content to lurk at the back of the three-man field as Osagie went through 400m in 49.21 secs followed by Kenya’s Jeremiah Mutai for the Commonwealth team, but the Scot closed right up at the last bend and made his move coming into the straight only to find his way blocked by the flailing Mutai who had also moved out to overtake.
Showing great strength Learmonth drove past for surely his best victory to date.
“This is a massive confidence boost for me,” said the Berwick-based man who is coached by Henry Gray. “I managed to get round the outside so probably lost a few tenths but could have gone quicker, definitely.”
“It’s only January and that was a big national record.”
Learmonth will race again over 800m in Vienna tomorrow night looking for another boost before the British Championships and World Indoor Trials in Sheffield where he may well clash with Osagie.
Chris O’Hare (Edinburgh AC) has already tasted the big time, having reached the World (Outdoor) Championship final and he delivered another confident performance, winning the 1500m in a desperate dash for the line as he covered the last 200m in 25.1 secs.
“That was tough,” said the Peebles man who took over the lead with three laps to go and controlled the pace before just outsprinting Kenya’s James Magut by 0.03 secs and British rival Charlie Grice by 0.07 secs in 3:48.62.
“It was a good first race for the season but I’ll have to keep working hard.”
Another Capital success story came in the men’s 400m where Jamie Bowie chopped half a second off his best time indoors in third place behind Bahamas winner Chris Brown (45.93) and Nigel Levine (46.31) for GB.
Bowie (47.20) later led the 4 x 400m relay team of Greg Louden (47.20), Anthony Young (47.84) and Dave Martin (47.63) to a new national indoor best of 3:09.84.
Glasgow University vet student Laura Muir (Kinross), like O’Hare and Learmonth already chosen for Glasgow 2014, made a big breakthrough in the 800m which she won with a driving finish in a new Scottish indoor record of 2:00.94, a performance which earned her the Athlete of the Meeting award.
Muir’s time may give Scotland’s new European 2012 champion Lynsey Sharp (EAC) something to ponder as she plots her recovery from injury.
In a surprise, emotional moment, Sharp received her much-delayed gold medal from her father Cameron, the former European 200m silver medallist, in a ceremony in the arena.
By contrast to Muir another Kinross lassie, Scottish captain Eilidh Child, could have wished for better luck. Sucked into the usual mad dash for the half-distance break in the women’s 400m the 26-year-old Edinburgh PE graduate, who had just returned from a long, tiring flight from South Africa to a whirl of media engagements, still found herself behind the Commonwealth Select rep, Nigerian Regina George, and was then overtaken by eventual winner Francena McCorory (USA). Though she tried to come back at them going down the back straight Child in her own words “died a death” on the final bend and faded to fourth as World champion Christine Ohuruogo’s younger sister Victoria also stole past.
“It was disappointing not to finish in the top two,” said the 2010 Commonwealth Games 400m hurdles silver medallist whose indoor season of flat 400m races is all geared to improving her chances over the “sticks” at Glasgow 2014.
“I just felt very flat and heavy-legged – South Africa was a lot of fast, flat-out running which I needed to do but my legs were not quite used to it.”
Though she looked better in coming home in the lead for Scotland after the first leg of the 4x400m relay, her time of 53.62 secs was only marginally faster but at least she led the team of Diane Ramsay (53.50), Zoey Clark (54.17) and Gemma Nicol (53.98) to a new national indoor record of 3:35.27 behind GB and ahead of both USA and the Commonwealth Select.