Holligan must not flag as he begins medal quest

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Scotland’s proud flag-bearer at last night’s Opening Ceremony Tom Holligan (Edinburgh AC) will be one of the first athletes in action today in the heats of the 100 metres when the fourth Commonwealth Youth Games begin in Douglas, Isle of Man.

The 17-year-old Firrhill High School pupil also promises to be one of the busiest athletes as, if he progresses to both sprint finals, he faces the prospect of six races in two days. Not surprisingly perhaps, as he is the European Youth Olympic champion over the distance, his coach Keith Ridley reckons Holligan has a better chance of a medal in the 200 metres, a distance over which he hinted his potential by winning the Scottish senior indoor title last February when he first broke 22 seconds.

He also demonstrated that he is a man for the big occasion by twice producing a personal best in Turkey last July en route to the gold medal which he won in a time of 21.46sec. Remarkably Holligan believes he is even more ready in the Isle of Man.

“It’s a similar set-up to Turkey but I’m a bit more aware now – I know the set-up and the protocol and I feel a lot more at home here,” he told the Evening News.

“The atmosphere in the camp is fantastic and I can’t wait to start competing.”

“Training has been a bit breezy but I’m really happy with the venue – the track is firm enough to run a fast time and in really good condition.”

And he added: “My training session yesterday felt like I was getting some good speed back which is great.”

Although the strength of the opposition may be something of an unknown quantity coach Ridley believes Holligan might be ranked as low as fifth in the 100m where England will be fielding the European Youth Olympic champion Leon Reid.