Scots athletes up for challenge at National

Edinburgh high jumper Emma Nuttall is in fine from. Picture: Greg Macvean
Edinburgh high jumper Emma Nuttall is in fine from. Picture: Greg Macvean
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Overshadowed by the World Championships which begin in Moscow tomorrow, the Scottish Senior and Para Success Disability Championships which take place at Scotstoun Stadium in Glasgow this weekend could be the most significant “National” since Meadowbank in 1986, just before the last Home Commonwealth Games there.

With next year’s championships in June probably taking place after the bulk of the Scottish team has been picked for Glasgow 2014, there has never been a better moment to shine.

Scottish Athletics are 
being encouraged by CommonwealthGamesScotland to submit an early list of candidates with cast-iron credentials, which of course must include at least two Glasgow 2014 qualifying standards.

But one of the wide open and exciting events tomorrow could be the men’s 100 metres where there is little prospect of anyone achieving the standard; in fact, the whole future of Scottish sprinting looks bleak with equally severe standards for 200m and 400m and no sprints coach in place to champion their cause.

Pitreavie’s Ryan Oswald, who achieved a sprint double at Scotstoun last June and should retain his 200m title, leads the 100m rankings with a modest 10.70 seconds and could face a challenge from 16-year-old Capital flyer Morro Bajo or Craigmillar-based policeman Greg Turnbull who has been in fine form on the Border Games circuit.

“It depends on his shifts, but he’ll run well and he’s strong mentally,” says Turnbull’s coach Charlie Affleck, who believes ScottishAthletics have not given sufficient thought to the current crisis in sprinting which could result in no sprinters being chosen for individual events next year.

Other events look much more encouraging and some Capital athletes could get in on the act and move from possibles to probables.

Three athletes high on the list must be the recent British champions Andy Frost, who has already achieved nine qualifying marks in the hammer, and Emma Nuttall, who has the requisite two high jump marks, one of which was a superb personal best of 1.87m to clinch the UK prize, and Allan Smith who snatched a bronze in the European Under-23 high jump with a jump of 2.26m for second on the Scottish All-Time list.

Retaining her Scottish ­title with another Games mark would be a significant step for Nuttall whose main problem could be a lack of opposition to spur her on.

Frost, the champion in 2011 but who missed last year, faces two other qualifiers – Mark Dry and Chris Bennett – and will be hoping that, in addition to himself, his partner Susan McKelvie can retain her hammer title and add a fifth Games qualifying mark. “I watched the women’s event on crutches last year after having an operation for wear and tear of a bone,” explained Frost. “I was able to get back after January and it has been quite a good season with the British title win.”

Smith, a potential medallist with another winter’s work, will have an old rival, Glasgow namesake David, back in opposition after the latter’s bronze medal success in the British Championships.

Guy Learmonth (Lasswade), last year’s 400m champion, is predicting that his clubmate Greg Louden will win this time:

“I would love to have my Lasswade companion win my title – I’m doing the 800m and I can’t wait,” said the Loughborough University student who has still to achieve his first Games standard and might have preferred college teammate to have Jake Wightman in his race after Wightman clocked a swift 1:48.0 at Stretford earlier this week.

Wightman, however, will concentrate on the 1500m the event in which he struck European junior bronze and in which he is also nudging the Glasgow standard.