They say it always comes for those who wait. Well, the waiting stopped for Kelso athlete Matthew Fleming at a sunkissed Earlston Games on Saturday.
For, after a long, barren spell of not registering a win on the games circuit, Fleming put matters to rights by triumphing in the 90m handicap on Earlston’s Haugh track.
Coached by Adie Gray, Fleming began his glory day when soaring to a heat win in 9.78 seconds, the fastest time of the opening runs.
Competing from a mark of 13.5m, the Tweedsider won his cross-tie in 9.59 seconds, earning him a final spot along with Amy Clancy of Peebles (15m), Darren Tomlinson of TLJT (10.5m), Graeme Armstrong of Edinburgh (14.5m) and Hawick pair Ryan Elliot (5.5m) and David Grieve (12m).
Fleming was a betting outsider for the last showdown, however, he was no outsider at the end of the sprint.
After getting off to a fine start, Fleming duly produced the goods to the full through a great run which saw him gain a thrilling photo-finish win.
Tomlinson was placed second and Clancy third. The watch recorded a winning time of 9.84 seconds.
Talking of his winning show, Fleming told The Southern: “It’s the first time I have won a final for seven or eight years and I am just delighted.
“I have surprised myself – I didn’t think I had a chance of doing anything today.
“I was surprised to win my heat, not to mention the cross-tie, and quite shocked to win the final.
“During the winter I have been training hard under my coach Adie Gray, so the work I have been putting in has paid off,”
Sixteen-year-old Kobe Stevens of the Moorfoot Club (70m) took pride of place in the 800m handicap.
A graduate from youth running to the senior ranks, Stevens emerged an impressive victor.
After having taken the lead from clubmate Sophie Collins (130m) on the last lap, Stevens began to stride out.
Back marker Michael Burns of Pitreavie (30m) was in pursuit, but Stevens had his sights set on the finishing line and raced on to take the honours in 1 minute 57.64 seconds.
Burns finished second and Kyle Potts of TLJT (70m) a place behind.
Stevens said: “It’s my first season as a senior and it’s a big step up for me. I wasn’t thinking of winning the race, all I was wanting to do was try my best and run well.”
Another youngster to show great potential amongst the seniors was Nathan Cox.
Now running under the banner of Morpeth Harriers, but formerly of Gala Harriers, Cox excelled in the 1600m handicap.
Innerleithen’s Craig Rendle (150m) headed the field as the bell sounded for the last lap, but Cox, competing from the back mark position of 20m, took over the lead and emerged a clear winner in four minutes 26.76 seconds.
The other placings went the way of Rendle and his fellow Innerleithen athlete Dean Whiteford (110m).
The Hawick David Rae/Che Campbell running school made its mark on the Earlston meeting, chalking up four victories.
Coach Rae led by example, coming out on top in the veterans’ 90m handicap. The 40-year-old (0.5m) blitzed to victory ahead of Kevin Turner of Dalkeith (10m) and Tommy Finkle of TLJT (3m) in 10.68 seconds.
Following his win, Rae said: “I have managed to win quite a few races since I started running at the games as a young boy. This was a bit different today, though, as it was my first appearance as a veteran. I just don’t know where the years have gone.”
Amy ‘Little Miss Dynamite’ Campbell (13m) gave a five-star show to win the junior 200m handicap.
After shining in her heat when clocking up a win in 24.46 seconds, 12-year-old Campbell gave another radiant performance in the final when emerging victorious in an improved time of 24.04 seconds.
Tom Fowler of Hawick (11m) came in second while Fraser Rout of TLJT (52m) was third.
Although beaten in his heat in the 200m handicap, Gordon McPherson (30m) ended up being the top performer of the event.
Qualifying for the final by gaining second place, McPherson pulled out the stops second time around in storming to a win in 21.82 seconds.
New Year sprint winner Dylan Ali also hoisted the winning flag for the Rae/Campbell stable in taking the 400m handicap in 49.81 seconds.
The stylish Ali (12m) looked the part from start to finish.
Representing TLJT, local youngsters Laura Munro and Grant Goodfellow both did Earlston proud in getting themselves into the winning frame.
Munro (13m) was first to delight the home support in taking the youths’ 90m handicap.
Goodfellow (20m) then followed suit, winning the youth’s 200m handicap.
Chirnside’s Archie Fuller gave a splendid account of himself in pulling off a superb double.
Ten-year-old Fuller won the youths’ 800m handicap as well as the junior 90m handicap – a great achievement.
Ben Reynolds (430) starred for Chirnside, too, by emerging a clear victor of the youth’s 1,600m handicap.
Youths 800m: 1, Archie Fuller, Chirnside, 230m, 1 minute, 51.12 sec; 2, Olivia Rodden, Jed AC, 280m; 3, Josh Abbott, Kelso, 135m.
90m Open: 1, Matthew Fleming, Kelso, 13.5m, 9.87 sec; 2, Darren Tomlinson, TLJT, 10.5m; 3, Amy Clancy, Peebles, 15m.
Youths’ 90m Group B: 1, Archie Fuller, Chirnside, 24m, 9.82 sec; 2, Keeley Womack, Lilliesleaf, 23m; 3, Fraser Rout, TLJT, 26m.
Youths’ 90m Group A: 1, Laura Munro, TLJT, 15.5m, 9.92 sec; 2, Ronan Mckean, Hawick, 13.5m; 3, Bryony Patterson, Innerleithen, 12m
800m Open: 1, Kobe Stevens, Moorfoot, 70m, 1 min 57.60 sec; 2, Michael Burns, Pitreavie AC, 30m; 3, Kyle Potts, TLJT, 70m.
Youths’ 1600m: 1, Ben Reynolds, Chirnside, 430m, 4 min 20.86 sec; 2, Joey Brown, Chirnside, 350m; 3, Mairi Wallace, Moorfoot, 340m.
200m Open: 1, Gordon McPherson, Hawick, 30m, 21.82 sec; 2, Euan Pettigrew, Jed AC, 20m; 3, Holly Mackay, Jed AC, 46m.
Youths’ 200m Group B: 1, Amy Campbell, Hawick, 37m, 24.04 sec; 2, Tom Fowler, Hawick, 38m; 3, Fraser Rout, TLJT, 52m.
Youths’ 200M Group A: 1, Grant Goodfellow, TLJT, 20m, 23.76 sec; 2, Cameron Fisher, Jed AC, 22m; 3, Laura Munro, TLJT, 30m.
1600m Open: 1, Nathan Cox, Morpeth Harriers, 20m, 4 min 26.76 sec; 2, Craig Rendle, Innerleithen, 150m; 3, Dean Whiteford, Innerleithen, 110m.
90m Vets: 1, David Rae, Hawick, 0.5m, 10.68 sec; 2, Kevin Turner, Dalkeith, 10m; 3, Thomas Finkle, TLJT, 3m.
400m Open: 1, Dylan Ali, Hawick, 12m, 49.0 sec; 2, Euan Pettigrew, Jed AC, 25m; 3, Craig Sowerby, Seaton AC 30m.