West Linton athlete Chris O’Hare certainly deserved a medal for his European Championship 1,500m effort in Zurich.
The delighted 23-year-old clinched third place in Sunday’s final, in three minutes and 46.18 seconds.
The race was won by Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad, the Frenchman stripped of his 3,000m steeplechase crown earlier in the week after removing his top as he entered the home straight.
The 1,500m was a final which at times looked as dangerous to be in as the Pamplona Bull Run, with athletes falling all over the place as they jostled for position.
O’Hare, talking to The Southern this week shortly after flying home, said: “I’ve been in some messy races before, but that was by far the messiest.
“It wasn’t like anyone was trying to make it aggressive or anything like that – these things tend to happen when the first two laps are slow, like they were on Sunday. If you are in a race like that you need to get into a position where you can use your kick and that’s when the jostling happens.”
The Borderer hit the front in an effort to free himself from the melee, but the move brought back a whisper of a recurring injury.
He said: “With 600m to go, I felt my hamstring – which has been bothering me all year – tweak a little bit and I wasn’t entirely sure it was going to hold out.
“So when Mekhissi went by with 400m to go, in my mind I knew I needed to react. I should have, but I wasn’t entirely sure my hamstring would hold out.
“So I just stayed with the pack until there was 250-200 metres to go.”
O’Hare was quite far back in the chasing pack coming into the final bend, but he pushed hard for home.
He said: “There was a space inside the Spaniard and I went for it, but he closed it immediately and I ran into a brick wall, so I had to run round the outside again. Otherwise, I may have got the silver. But it is what it is – I could have easily finished fourth or fifth, or just as easily have gone down, so I’ve got to count my blessings and be happy with my bronze medal.”
O’Hare, who has spent most of the summer months at home in Scotland, has an entirely different challenge for the coming months – arranging his wedding to fiance Meredith in Boston, USA, where he will be based until October.