Martin leads Scots to third, but wins in sportsmanship stakes

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LEADING a very young Scottish Junior Boys’ Tetrathlon team at the UK regional competition at Milton Keynes last weekend, Westruther sporting all-rounder Martin Smith kept his cool to claim a podium spot.

Competing among an entry of almost 200, including a particularly strong squad from the Republic of Ireland, Martin and his team participated in individual and team challenges over the weekend.

At 15, Martin was the oldest member of the Scottish squad with his team-mates – Matt Argo, Daniel Woods, Lewis Khan and Luke Burnett – being 12 and 13-year-olds competing in their first major competition at junior level and one of the youngest and most inexperienced teams Scotland has ever fielded.

The Scottish girls also entered two strong teams made up of 10 girls from various areas of the country.

In the run-up to the event, the horse Martin intended taking with him – Amelia Jobling’s Spider – gave cause for concern yet again with his tendency to lose shoes, even a week kept indoors didn’t stop him requiring last-minute visits to the farrier.

However, Spider remained sound and after missing the excitement of Windsor Horse Show a few weeks previous, he was to have his day at Milton Keynes.

The same, however, was looking unlikely for one of Martin’s fellow competitors. A 15-year-old from Alnwick who was a member of the Northern England team was left without transport at the last minute, so eyebrows were raised when Martin arrived at the event with a member of the opposition in tow.

On Saturday, the weather was miserable, but spirits in the Scottish camp were high. The shooting and swimming phases all went well and Martin entered the second day of the competition in a strong individual position.

His young team also performed well and led the competition after the shooting phase, following it with all members of the team producing personal bests in the swimming phase. The party on Saturday night also saw the boys in excellent form.

Sunday was bright and sunny – the cross-country phase of the competition posed no problems for Martin and Spider and they flew over the finishing line in great style, celebrating a lovely clear round.

Spider was back in the good books. The commentator told the watching crowd that the Scottish boys had just shown the competition how to ride a cross-country course. Luke had a wee mishap in the riding section, but the boys were still looking strong as they went into the final phase – the running. Gutsy displays from all the boys meant that they finished in third place overall – a very unexpected but much deserved result.

Martin finished the competition in third individual place – only just beaten by two tetrathletes from Ireland – thus meaning that Martin became UK regional champion.

He told TheSouthern: “The whole weekend was a great experience and being captain was a real honour. The team put on a fantastic performance, often against older, more experienced competitors, and we had great fun.”

Martin’s next outing is next weekend at the Scottish Tetrathlon Championship where he intends to compete at intermediate level, although technically still classed as a junior.