Peebles duo go like the Fleming clappers

PEEBLES athletes Sue Ridley and Linda Nicholson were amongst the strong GB team which took part in the European Masters Indoor Athletics Championships in the Flemish city of Ghent.

With more than 3,000 participants from all over Europe across five-year age groups from age 35 to 95, Ghent was transformed for the week into a multi-cultural centre of age-defying athleticism.

After a troubled journey, Sue was only 0.6 seconds off bronze when finishing fourth in the W45 3,000m in 10.44.71.

Refreshed from a couple of days off she returned to action in the 5K cross-country (on an adjacent parkland course) and this time finished strongly to claim the bronze medal.

She rounded off her championships the next day with a solid sixth-place finish in the 1,500m in 5.03.29. Local Corrine Debaets struck a gold hat-trick with wins in all three events.

While Linda didn’t return with anything to set off the airport metal detector, she whizzed to a new 60m Scottish record of 8.66 seconds when finishing second behind the eventual gold medallist Nicole Alexis from France in her W50 60m heat.

She returned to the track later that evening for her semi-final, when fourth place in a marginally slower time of 8.75 seconds qualified her for Saturday’s final where she finished seventh in 8.76 seconds.

With no recovery day and with three races in her legs, Linda didn’t expect to be at her best in the following day’s long jump, but a safe first-round leap of 4.66m demonstrated that she was on top form.

This equalled her own Scottish record and a 4.70m-plus jump beckoned.

Alas, the technicalities of long jump mean it is not that predictable an event and while others around her nailed some big leaps Linda was not so lucky, recording two no-jumps.

One was so marginal it required very close inspection of the plasticine.

In the end, despite some role-reversal coaching from daughter Faye in the stands and two further leaps in excess of 4.60m, she couldn’t quite improve on her first-round effort and again finished in seventh.

The French winner Catherine Seilliac jumped for joy when sneaking over the 5m mark.