Aug 192019

127th Senior National Championships

Central AC’s senior athletes were on top form at the 127th Scottish National Championships held at Grangemouth over the weekend. In changeable blustery conditions fast times were hard to come by but Central won a brace of silvers in the men’s and women’s 5,000 Metres along with a Hurdles medal.

Fanni Gyurko was contesting the Women’s 5,000 Metres on the Saturday. Fanni has been a Central member for several years since moving from her native Hungary to Dunblane and has clocked up some impressive marathon performances, setting the club record at 2 hours 39 minutes in Frankfurt two years ago. She was stepping down to 5,000 Metres as preparation for upcoming marathons in Budapest in September and Frankfurt in October. In a tactical race Annabelle Simpson of Fife proved too strong as she set a new championship record but Fanni stuck to her race plan and finished in the silver medal position with a time of 17 minutes 22.23 seconds.

The Men’s 5,000 Metres was run on the Sunday in wet blustery conditions where Jamie Crowe and Ali Hay lined up for Central. Jamie has just returned from a scholarship at Lamar University in America where he has run some impressive times while Ali is a former Scottish champion and Commonwealth Games finalist, so both were looking for a podium spot. In another fast race both Central athletes stuck with the pace. Christian Jones of Dundee ultimately proved too strong and set a new championship record, but Jamie Crowe stuck behind him and took silver in 14 minutes 28.93 seconds, a time also inside the previous championship record. Ali was just outside the medals in fourth with 14:40.22 minutes, both impressive times in difficult conditions.

Afterwards Jamie commented, “I’m pleased to get the medal, but it was rough out there! It’s been a long season. I’ve been racing since March so will take some time off now before the cross country starts. But I’m happy with my season.”

Jack Houghton was returning to Grangemouth a week after winning the Scottish Junior 400 Metres Hurdles title, this time looking to take on Scotland’s senior athletes. In a top class 400 Metres Hurdles race the top three were too good for Jack but he held his stride to finish in fourth with 57.08s, a respectable place against a top class field. However, he was not finished there and returned an hour later to take on the 110 Metres Hurdles. And here he did manage to get on the podium as he ran 16.81 seconds, a personal best at the senior height, to win the bronze, Jack’s first ever national senior medal.

There were several other good performances. Stirling marathon champion, Michael Wright, placed fifth in the 3,000 Metres Steeplechase in 9:46.22. Personal bests were rare in the difficult conditions but Iain Davies managed two of them at 800 Metres, with 1:55.33 in his heat then 1:55.19 in the final to place seventh in a fast race won in 1:48. Jack Kerr’s 1:58.88 in his 800 Metres heat was not quite enough to progress. In the 5,000 Metres ‘B’ race Hamish Hickey put in a decent show as he placed third in a time of 15:25.65 minutes.

In the sprints Ian Horsburgh placed fifth in the 200 Metres final with 22.67s (22.60s in heat), an impressive result from an athlete who is now in the Masters category where he is ranked one of the top in Europe in his age group. Kieran Halliday set a new personal best in the 100 Metres with 11.62s to progress to the semi-finals then ran 23.76s in the 200 Metres.

Peter Muirhead had a tough time in the Long Jump with the changing conditions making run ups difficult but managed 7.10m in the Long Jump for a respectable seventh.

Under-17 Championships

In the Scottish Under-17 Championships Central AC’s hurdlers were at the fore with club athletes winning three medals through a sprint hurdles 1-2 from Balfron sisters Coirilidh and Briagha Cook and a silver from Denny teenager, Daniel Bruce over the one lap hurdles.

In the Girls’ 80 Metres Hurdles the preparation for the event for Coirlidh and Briagha could not have been more contrasting. Coirilidh, the younger sister at 15, came into the event as the top ranked in the field and unbeaten in Scotland this season. However the main story for the Balfron based family was the return of her 16-year-old older sister Briagha after a long 15 month injury lay off. The pair of them had previously both been winning national titles in their respective age groups, but Briagha’s career had abruptly been put on hold after she picked up a serious foot injury in early 2018. This meant while Coirilidh had been winning multiple national titles, Briagha had been forced to cheer from the sidelines as she went through a lengthy rehab process including two operations. Briagha finally made her first tentative steps back to competition only 10 days ago and came through strongly with a personal best 12.01s putting her top five in Scotland showing she was ready to take on a national championships. In contrast, Coirilidh’s preparations had been much more to plan with wins at the Scottish indoor & Scottish schools championships. She was looking to complete the set with the Scottish outdoor title.

In the heats Coirilidh and Briagha were drawn in the same heat and came through first and second to take automatic qualifying places for the final as Coirilidh ran 11.95s and Briagha, a new personal best 12.00s.

When the final came the rain was starting to come down and the wind constantly changing making conditions difficult. When the gun went Coirilidh found herself in a battle with an athlete from Morpeth. Briagha had opted to not use starting blocks as she was still protecting her foot, and found herself adrift in third place, but gradually picked up speed. Coirilidh started establishing a lead and pulled clear to take the win. But behind her Briagha was in full stride and gradually reeled in the Morpeth Harrier then pull ahead after the final hurdle to take an unexpected silver medal making it a 1-2 for Central AC and the family.

Coirilidh had stopped the clock in a superb new personal best 11.77s earning her a gold medal and gold award standard while Briagha had dipped below 12 seconds for the first time ever with a personal best 11.92s. Afterwards the sisters were delighted to finish in a 1-2 together. For Coirilidh it was another national title after a fantastic season. For Briagha though it was a return she thought might never happen. She commented “I was just thinking on the start line would I get over the first hurdle?” She certainly did that and a lot more and can hopefully inspire others going through injury problems that with patience and perseverance you can come back and be a medal winner again. They will take on the Central AC club championships next week then travel to Bedford for the UK championships the following week.

Daniel Bruce was contesting what many regard the toughest of events, the 400 Metres Hurdles. Due to an administrative error Daniel had been unable to contest the Scottish Schools but as the second ranked in Scotland with a best time of 58.97s, he was looking to show what he could do. His main rival from Dundee set off strongly and established a big lead and Daniel found himself in a three-way tussle for the other medals. But Daniel dug in and ran a strong second bend to pull clear into second place, then in the home straight set about chasing down the leader. Ultimately, his opponent had too much of a lead to catch, but Daniel finished strongly to take the silver medal in a superb time of 57.93s, smashing his previous best by over a second. Last year Daniel had won a Scottish Schools bronze but this was a proud moment as he won his first ever medal at a national championships. Daniel went on to show his versatility as he placed seventh in high jump with 1.62m and ninth in Long Jump with 5.75m.

There were nearly more medals for Central in the hurdles. Celtic games international, Daniel Ferguson, was contesting the 100 Metres Hurdles. He started strongly and while the top three were too fast for him, he was rewarded with a fourth place and personal best 14.23s.

Amy Gibson was competing for the first time ever in the Girls’ High Jump and had the daunting task of taking on the best in Scotland. She managed 1.42m for seventh but with more training and experience will look to come back and challenge for the podium next year.

Lewis Dow placed 10th in a tactical 1,500 Metres in 4:23.14 minutes. Sam Grivell managed 4:49.80 at 1,500 Metres and 2:23.82 at 800 Metres.

In the sprints, Lucy More was not far off the 100 Metres final after 13.29s in her heat, then ran 28.11s into a headwind in the 200 Metres.

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