Greg Kelly of East Kilbride emulated 2015 champion Cameron Tindle (Berwick) as a teenage winner of the world-famous New Year Sprint on Monday at Musselburgh Racecourse.
The 17-year-old started off 8.25m and cruised home fully two yards clear to welcome 2017 in 11:54secs, as he repeated his semi-final victory over Lasswade long jumper Jordan Charters, with fellow teenager Emily Dagg of Jedburgh close behind in third.
Despite a gap of barely 90 minutes between semi and final, Kelly’s victory in the 148th running of the 110m dash earned him a handsome crystal trophy and a first prize of £4000, although the cold and blustery conditions ruined any prospect of adding a big money bonus, which veteran promoter Frank Hanlon had offered for a superfast time.
Emily, also 17, had created quite an impression during Friday’s qualifying heats at Meadowmill Sports Centre when she clocked the quickest time of the day – a sizzling 11:50 – off 20.5m.
A repetition of that would have been good enough to win on January 1, but the unfavourable weather and the switch from synthetic track to grass made direct comparisons fairly meaningless. However, after going four places beter than last year, she said: “I’m really pleased. Getting to the final again was a bonus and I felt I ran well, so I have no regrets.”
Emily’s podium finish was welcome compensation for her coach Bruce Scott after he had earlier seen another of his Jedburgh athletes, defending champion Jaz Tomlinson, fail to retain her title.
Having become the race’s first female winner last January, the teenager was treated less generously this year by handicapper Adam Crawford and only scraped through the heats as a fastest loser.
She was unable to make further history on New Year’s Day as she missed out on a place in the final after finishing only fourth in semi-final three, won by 57-year-old Doug Donald, the champion back in 1991.
It was a proud day generally for Borders runners, with three others – Cameron Caldwell (Galashiels), Glyn Desport (Hawick) and Craig Bruce (Selkirk) – also making the final.