Smith leads Scottish medal contingent in Sheffield

Allan Smith shows off his medal. Pic. PA
Allan Smith shows off his medal. Pic. PA
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Dalmeny high jumper Allan Smith, who was competing for London club Shaftesbury Barnet yesterday, led Scotland’s small posse of athletes on a remarkable medal spree in the Sainsbury’s British Indoor Championships at the English Institute of Sport, Sheffield.

Smith, 22, won with a first-time clearance of 2.29 metres which was also a European Indoor qualifying standard and should guarantee his place in the British team for Prague from March 6-8.

The St Augustine High FP set a new personal best of 2.26m to win the title and then went on to clear 2.29m, before attempting 2.31m to try to break Geoff Parsons’ 29-year-old Scottish National Indoor mark of 2.30m.

“It’s nice to get my first senior vest – I knew I was in good shape,” said Smith, who will probably not compete in next weekend’s Birmingham Grand Prix. “I competed too often last year when I ended up chasing heights so it’s good to have a rest between competitions.

“But 2.29m is not very high in this day and age and I want to take it as high as I can. I’d like to make the final in Prague.”

Fellow Scot, Glasgow’s David Smith, who shared the Native record of 2.25m with him last week, withdrew from yesterday’s competition after an injury warming up, while Scotland’s other Glasgow 2014 jumper Ray Bobrownicki (Edinburgh University) had a study commitment.

Commonwealth Games finalist Guy Learmonth (Lasswade) started the ball rolling with an assured performance to win the 800 metres from the front in 1:49.00, from surprise runner-up Glasgow Caledonian student James Bowness (Trafford) who chased him hard down the straight in 1:49.06.

Learmonth will now head for the GB GP meeting to try to secure the Prague qualifying mark of 1.48.00. “I’m happy to be the UK champion – what a way to start the year – now my main focus will be next week in Birmingham,” he said.

Kirsten McAslan, whose parents are both from Edinburgh, was the most surprised gold medallist of the meeting. Trailing in fourth place in the 400m going into the final bend, two rivals in front of her disappeared in a tangle of legs: “That’s my first senior GB medal and it was a new experience,” she admitted with a giggle.

“I had to switch off and then on again, but the last bit of my race is always the strongest,” claimed the Bath University student who fought her way past remaining rival Laura Maddox (Swansea) to snatch the verdict in an indoor best of 53.05 secs.

Hampden 2014 team-mate Sarah Warnock (EAC) soared out to a new indoor best by 15cms of 6.37m to capture the long jump silver behind GB star Abigail Ironzuru (Sale), 6.73m.

Glasgow vet student Laura Muir was an impressive winner of the 1500m in 4:13.06, while Capital-based Jamie Bowie claimed bronze in the 400m and is hopeful of a GB 400m relay place in Prague.