Central AC’s Ali Hay was on top form as he took the 5,000 metre title at the Scottish national championships at Grangemouth at the weekend, as Central won 3 medals in total.
The 32 year old from Gargunnock has won several previous Scottish titles on and off the track but this was his first Scottish track title since winning the 1,500 metres in 2010, which qualified him for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi that year, where he reached the final.
Hay has shifted his focus up a distance to 5,000 metres and set a personal best 14:10 minutes earlier this season. He used all his experience in a tactical race run in wet blustery conditions as he sat back initially and let others do the running but always kept a close eye on the leaders. Gradually the lead group was whittled down to 6. With 600 metres to go, James Hood of Aberdeen wound up the pace to reduce the group to just 3. When they hit the back straight on the final lap, Sean Fontana of Glasgow burst clear but Hay then decided it was time to make his move and hit top gear to surge ahead. Hay then had the strength to keep going and was never challenged over the last 200 metres as he crossed the line to take the Scottish title. The tactical nature of the race meant the winning time of 14:37.91 minutes was well below Hay’s personal best but what was more telling was his 57 second final 400 metres which nobody else could follow.
Afterwards Hay commented “I am delighted to win it because before today I only have one Senior Scottish track title to my name – that was a 1,500 metres in 2010 held at Pitreavie when they were doing it as selection for the Commonwealths. Today was a good race. Lachlan Oates took it on a few times but nobody else really wanted to so the group stayed together for quite a while. Sean Fontana kicked with 300 metres to go and I responded – I was just glad he didn’t keep it going and I was able to get a bit of lead. I am 32 now and my wee boy was watching. He’s only two at the moment so he won’t remember it I don’t suppose but I can always tell him about it!
“You watch the events in Berlin and it just makes you want to get out there and run again and compete. Obviously we are not at that level, but I enjoyed watching it and it definitely inspired me for Sunday. I don’t race as much now, I guess you have commitments and priorities as you get older, and my wife is training for the Berlin Marathon, so we sometimes have to take it in turns going out for a run.
“But I will look to do the cross country season again. At Central AC, we’re very keen to try and keep winning team titles but we’ve maybe not quite got the depth we had three or four years ago. We will keep working on that to get some athletes back out there.” Hay should have a few more years at the top level.
Also on the podium was Central’s Stirling and Scottish marathon champion, Michael Wright, who finished off his season in style. The Stirling based training partner of Ali Hay was competing in the 3,000 Metre Steeplechase. It was another tactical race and Michael waited for his opportunity. When the break came Michael Deeson of Shettleston pulled away but Wright settled into second place and kept his rhythm over the barriers all the way to the line to take the silver medal in a seasons best 9:28.20 minutes, only just missing his personal best.
High Jumper, Amy Gullen, was Central’s other medallist. In her final competition as a teenager before celebrating her 20th birthday a few days later, Gullen was looking to finally improve her club record of 1.68m which she set back in 2013. She has been in good form all season having jumped 1.66m earlier this year and winning the East District title and a bronze at the Scottish indoor championships. Gullen had first time clearances at every height up to 1.62m which guaranteed a medal as only 3 athletes were left in the competition. However she was looking for more and needed every bit of her resolve to clear 1.67m at the 3rd and final attempt. The bar was then raised to 1.70m and Gullen had good attempts but was not quite able to get the clearance she was after. However she had still done enough to win the silver medal on countback and finish top Scottish competitor behind an athlete from Herts Phoenix AC.
Afterwards Gullen said “I was pleased with the medal but was disappointed not to clear 1.70m as I know I have it in me. I have been training hard and was trying a new run up. I’ll be having another go at the women’s league later this month and the club championships in September so hopefully I can get the club record before the end of the season.” We will all wish her best of luck with that.
There were several other Central competitors in the senior event. Masters’ athlete, Graham Porterfield is still improving and earlier this season broke the club hammer record which had stood since 1980. He couldn’t quite match that distance at the Scottish championships but still threw an excellent 37.74m for 7th place. He also placed 5th in the shot with 11.03m. Jack Kerr was making a return to competition and smashed his 800 Metre personal best with 1:56.66 to progress to the semi-finals where he missed out on the final by just one place. Fraser Logan took on the 1,500 Metres running 4:24.17 minutes, and 2 of our juniors stepped up to test themselves against the top seniors: Kieran Halliday ran a near personal best of 11.74s in the 100 Metres and 24.46s in the 200 Metres. Telfer Gray took on the 5,000 Metres for the first time ever running a respectable 17:18.
Central AC’s hurdlers were on top form as they landed 3 medals at the Scottish Under-17 championships at Grangemouth at the weekend.
Daniel Ferguson was returning after winning a silver medal for Scotland in the Under-16 100 Metre Hurdles at the Celtic Games international the week before at the same venue. This time Daniel was competing in the older Under-17 age group which meant he not only had the challenge of adjusting to the higher height of hurdles at Under-17 but also had to contend with a strong headwind and a wet track. His concentration was then tested as the athlete in the lane next to him was disqualified for a false start. However they were cleanly away at the second time of asking and Daniel got into his rhythm and held onto 3rd place from start to finish to claim the bronze medal. His time of 14.55s was impressive given the difficult conditions.
Shortly earlier, Katie Sharkey lined up in the Under-17 girls 80 Metre Hurdles. She started well and challenged all the way to the line to take silver in 12.16s.
Emma Mailer was also returning a week after winning a silver medal at the Celtic Games international at 400 Metre Hurdles, this time in the shorter 300 Metre Hurdles where she was defending the title she won last year. Emma set out strongly building up a 5 metre lead however faded towards the end and was unfortunately just pipped on the line by 0.01s to win the silver medal in 45.87s but desperately wanting gold.
There were some further good performances as other Central athletes were close to the medals. In the 1,500 Metres, Lewis Dow stayed in contention up until the final lap, however when European youth champion, Kane Elliot kicked at the bell, Dow was unable to keep up and had to settle for 4th. He can still be pleased with a season’s best 4:12.08 minutes. Shona McLay was just run out of the medals in the 200 Metres running 26.36s for 4th just 0.06s from bronze. Elizabeth Thompson, who had also competed at the Celtic Games a week earlier in the 4 x 400 Metre Relay, took on the shorter 300m and placed 5th in a fast race with 41.88s. Lucy More was testing herself out in the 100 Metres running a respectable 13.54s for 6th in her heat.