KIERAN KIVLIN began his day on a losing note.
However, he ended it on a winning one. For the Edinburgh teenager gave a capital show by taking pride of place in the Jed-Forest 110m handicap at Jedburgh Border Games on Saturday.
In an event that brought about its share of surprises, Kivlin (4.5m) was beaten in his heat by Hawick’s David Grieve (15m) who won in 11.90 seconds.
Portobello High School pupil Kivlin, however, gained second place and due to the first two qualifying, found himself in the cross-ties.
Come his semi-final outing, Kivlin got it spot-on with a very impressive run that saw him break the tape in 11.92 seconds.
Along with fellow finalists, Peter Denholm of Melrose (8.5m), Tommy Finkle of TLJT (13m), Grieve (15m), Steven Charters of Dolphinton (3m) and Graeme Armstrong of Edinburgh (17m), Kivlin was now in the last showdown for the £3,000 first prize.
Metres from home, it appeared as though recent Kelso Games 100m handicap victor Grieve, who had led from the start, was set to notch up his second win of the season.
Coached by Kevin Turner, Kivlin however came storming in from the back to snatch a dramatic photo-finish triumph in 11.62 seconds, which was the fastest of the event.
Grieve gained second place and Armstrong third.
Kivlin told TheSouthern: “I won the New Year youths’ sprint a while ago, but I have never won anything as big as this and it’s a great feeling to have pulled it off.
“I have been quite pleased with my running this season as I have been in the final of the Hawick and Oxton Games sprints and have been trying hard.
“But today, in the final, was the best I have ran and I am so glad I got it right.”
Twenty years ago Selkirk’s Geoff Keen was the winner of the Jed-Forest sprint handicap.
On Saturday on the same Riverside Park turf, he tasted sprint victory again, doing the business in the veteran’s 90m handicap.
A member of the Edinburgh-based Charlie Affleck school, Keen (1m) looked the part when winning his heat and in the final shone again when surging ahead of Andy Cullen of Corstorphine (4m) and Bruce Scott of TLJT (4m) in 10.94 seconds.
A delighted Keen said: “I can’t believe it’s 20 years since I won the main sprint here at Riverside. It must be a good track for me as I have also won the 70m handicap on it, so hopefully I might win the 400m handicap next year.”
Seventeen-year-old Luke Lowther of Jed AC (35m) delighted the home crowd with a triumph in the 200m handicap. Following a heat win, Lowther, who in his first season as a senior has chalked up handicap victories at Earlston, Selkirk and Oxton games, held off challenges from Dylan Ali of TLJT (15m) and Ryan Trimby of Hawick (25m) down the home straight to win in 22.12 seconds.
This was another good win for Lowther – the Brian ‘Chico’ Woods-coached runner has certainly made his mark in recent weeks.
Sarah Ross of Pitreavie (73m) gave an excellent account of herself to take the 400m handicap. Ross was out in front coming down the home straight, but her lead was being whittled down. However, she still had plenty to offer and dug deep to gain the honours from Leigh Marshall of TLJT (14m) and Gordon McPherson of Hawick (32m) in 52.47 seconds.
Reflecting on her winning show, Ross told us: “I have never won a race in the Borders before so I am really thrilled, especially as it’s Jedburgh because it’s such a big meeting.
“My boyfriend Craig Grieve, who also runs, comes from Jedburgh, and I have been staying here during the summer and it makes my win even nicer. I train along with Craig at TLJT.”
Victory in the 800m handicap went the way of Paddy Jummelle of Edinburgh (80m).
He earned a final spot as a fastest loser, beaten in his heat by Jedburgh’s Andrew Thomson (85m). In the final, though, Jummelle turned the tables. Thomson was second with Grant Kennedy of Glasgow (110m) coming in a place behind.
The 1,500m handicap turned out to be a thrilling battle between Darrell Hastie of Kelso (55m) and Craig Robertson of Pitreavie (55m). Gary Law of Hawick (345m) was the man in front at the beginning of the last lap with Hastie and Robertson close on his heels. Hastie then edged ahead, but before the final bend, Robertson took the lead.
Hastie gave chase, but Robertson strode on to do the business. The other placings went of Hastie and Law.
Robertson said: “I won the 800m and the 1,500m at Jedburgh last year and it’s just brilliant to have been able to win again.”
Craig Fleming of Clydebank gave a first-class show to win the Border Athletics 100m sprint championship ahead of Greg Turnbull of TLJT and Steven Charters of Dolphinton.
Former New Year sprint winner Craig Robertson of Galashiels was the victor of the 100m invitation handicap. Craig Grieve of TLJT was second and Chris Baillie of Birchfield third.
Twelve-year-old Eve Huxley of Innerleithen, a youngster who has tremendous potential, produced the goods to the full and a little more besides in the junior 90m handicap.
Competing from scratch, Huxley buzzed to a heat win before becoming involved in a thrilling final which brought about a photo-finish, Huxley getting the verdict over Brodie Graham of Hawick (4m) and Sam Archibald of Leithenburn (9.5m).
Huxley’s coach Charlie Russell told us: “I have been in this game for a long time and have been lucky enough to train a few winners. However, I have to say that Eve’s win this afternoon was the best I have seen. It was amazing that she could win something like this from scratch.”
Hawick ruled the roost in the youth’s 90m handicap. Corey Wilson (7m), Megan Shiel (14m) and Logan Gordon-Woolley (12m) from the Billy Edgar stable gained the first three places in the final.
Scott Armstrong of Durham (1m) emerged a clear victor of the junior 200m handicap. Barrie McLean of Hawick was second and Euan Hood of Moorfoot third.
Coached by her grandfather Brian ‘Chico’ Woods, Holly Mackay of Jed AC (33m) triumphed in the youths’ 200m handicap. Mackay won her heat in 24 seconds dead. More was to come from the 15-year-old in the final as she soared to a win in an improved time of 23.90. Megan Shiel of Hawick (31m) was second and Euan Pettigrew of Kelso (5m) third.
Woods said: “Like any grandfather I am very proud of my granddaughter’s achievement.
“I was very pleased to see Holly win, not just for the family relationship, but for the fact that she trains hard and ran very well today.”
Nathan Cox of Berwick (75m) hit top form to take the youth’s 1,500m handicap.
Gala Harriers’ Joey Brown (350m) led the pack at the bell. Due to some strong positive running from the gun, Cox had moved well through the field from his back position.
So much so, he took the lead and from here on the race was well and truly his.
Kobe Stevens of Moorfoot (160m) and Brown were placed second and third respectively.