HAWICK teenager Dylan Ali was the toast of the town last night after winning the prestigious New Year Sprint at Musselburgh Race Course.
The 18-year-old was one of five Borderer to line up in the final of the historic event after cruising through his cross tie in 11.80 seconds.
It hadn’t been all plain sailing for the youngster however. He only just qualified for the semi-final stages as the slowest of 10 fastest losers in Tuesday’s heats in a time of 12.26 seconds. He told TheSouthern: “I was pretty disappointed with my heat but I also had a run in the Invitation Sprint which gave me that wee bit boost.
“I think that extra run helped a lot and I came second which was a bonus. I knew then that I had it in my legs.”
Indeed he did. Running from his mark of 7.5m Ali, who is a waiter/barman at Hawick’s New Deli Bar and Restaurant, lined up in the final as joint favourite alongside fellow Teri Jack Wilson 13m, Seb Harrison (Jedburgh) 6.5m, Craig Bruce (Selkirk) 12m and the only female runner to make it to the final Jazmine Tomlinson for the TLJT club who ran off 21.5m. Also in the final line-up were Kevin Eddie (Dunfermline) 9m, Charlie Carstairs (Lasswade AC) 7.75m, and Cameron Smith (Central AC) 8m.
Ali repeated his cross tie feat and then some. Winning the race in a scorching 11.59 seconds, despite the heavy ground conditions, to become the 10th Hawick winner of the 110m race which has been held annually on or around New Years Day since 1870. Eddie was second with Jedburgh’s Seb Harrison taking third place.
“I’ve only entered the event the last couple of years and never got past the heat stages so I’m absolutely chuffed to bits to have won it,” he added.
Coach David Rae was moved to tears as he watched his charge sail in while training partner Leigh Marshall, himself a former winner of the race, was one of the first to congratulate him.
“I have so many people to be grateful to,” said Ali.
“David, Che Campbell (assistant coach), Steven Riddell (physio), the squad, my family, they have all been great and I’m just delighted to give them all something back.”
And then of course there is the £4000 prize pot to be taken into consideration.
“I haven’t thought what I will do with the prize money yet but I think I may be buying a few beers for these boys tonight,” concluded Ali.