Bruce Scott, coach to last year’s history-making New Year Sprint winner Jaz Tomlinson, believes girl power can triumph again in the famous 110 metres professional handicap, the heats of which will be staged at Meadowmill Sports Centre, East Lothian tomorrow.
However, Jedburgh-based Scott is not expecting a repeat from the 19-year-old Galashiels College student, who was an 8-1 outsider when she stormed home last year from her mark of 20.5 metres to become the first female winner in the 147 years of the event.
“Jaz has nae chance off 17 metres but she’ll be there to defend her title,” said Scott, praising the way Tomlinson has handled her success.
“Jaz has been quite focused, running for Edinburgh AC quite successfully and reaching Scottish finals, having set personal best times for 60, 100 and 200 metres.”
But it is another member of the TJLT club, Emily Dagg, who Scott believes will offer their main challenge.
Dagg did well to reach the final last time, finishing seventh, a place ahead of the previous winner Cameron Tindle, this year’s backmarker, who will not run due to other priorities. Dagg also won the women’s Invitation Sprint at the CERF (City of Edinburgh Running Festival) meeting at Meggetland in July. “Emily’s put in a lot of hard work in the gym and has got the same mark as Jaz had last time – she’s got a wee chance,” says Scott, who also believes Galashiels rookie Cameron Caldwell should go well. In heat four, Dagg faces former winner Cumbie Bowers (Glenrothes, 8.5m) and Capital duo Kieran Kivlin, a former youths winner off 6.75m and Sarah Malone (EAC) off 19.5m. Malone is one of three runners guided by veteran Meadowbank coach Bill Walker, the others being a former favourite – who has never quite lived up to his promise – Morro Bajo (EAC) in heat seven off 5.25m, where he has to give five metres to former Scottish 200m champion Francis Smith (Rosyth) and former Scottish champion Stacey Downie, off 17.25m in heat two.
Other Capital hopes rest on coach John Scott’s duo of long jumper Jordan Charters, who was fourth last time and is off 10.25m in heat three, where faces Tynedale Harrier Lea Stephenson, off 9m, and Ellie McGinty in heat six, off 19.5m.
From farther afield, two names are being mentioned as potential winners: Greg Kelly (East Kilbride AC), who is off 8.25m in the first of the 12 heats, and Glen Desport (Hawick, 9.5m) in heat eight.
PROMOTER SET TO MAKE BIG DAY
New Year Sprint promoter Frank Hanlon insists he will be present for the final, which takes place during the National Hunt meeting at Musselburgh Racecourse on New Year’s Day, despite the fact that he is only due to be released from hospital that day.
Hanlon, who has attended the event for almost 50 years, is determined not to miss out this year despite having spent the last fortnight in hospital having suffered a broken wrist and ligament damage to both ankles in a fall down stairs.
In charge for the sprint heats and other events at Meadowmill Sports Centre tomorrow at 11am will be the veteran Glenrothes handicapper Adam Crawford, who himself is recovering from illness.