Bitter-sweet experience in Glasgow for Borders athletes

A dejected Guy Learmonth after his fall  (BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images).
A dejected Guy Learmonth after his fall (BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images).

There were wildly contrasting fortunes for the Borders athletes among the UK team in Glasgow for the European Indoor Championships last weekend.

Chris O’Hare, of West Linton, scooped a silver medal in the 3000 metres, which his supporters felt was ample reward for years of patience, persistence and perseverance.

Men's 3000m finalist Chris O'Hare with his silver medal on the rotrum (photograph by BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

Men's 3000m finalist Chris O'Hare with his silver medal on the rotrum (photograph by BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

Berwickshire’s Guy Learmonth, however, the UK team captain, suffered a bleak end to his hopes in the 800 metres, as he endured a fall in the semi-final, then the ignominy of disqualification.

The well-known runner was already competing with a broken hand, having had another fall recently while competing in Birmingham.

O’Hare, whose time was 7:57.19, said : “I’m happy I split up the (Norwegian) Ingebrigtsens (fellow competitors Jakob, who won gold, and older brother Henrik, who was three thousandths of a second behind O’Hare in a photo finish).

“I’m happy being back on the medal podium – it’s been four years since I’ve been on the podium and its been a hell of a four years, so I wouldn’t change it.

“It’s made me the person I am today and, hopefully, this is another step forward.

“With 200m to go, I thought ‘I’ve got bronze’ and tried to give it everything I had to be on Henrik’s shoulder.

“It took me a lot to get on his shoulder but then, round the bend, the crowd just erupted and it does kind of pick you up an chuck you towards the line.

“Obviously, every medal is different by way of what it took to get there – I got my first two as a rookie on the scene.

“Now (at 28) I’m kind of the old boy, so it’s good to kind of get back on medal standing and be rewarded for four years of hard work.”

Learmonth tumbled in his semi-final and was disqualified for obstruction, after Irishman Mark English lodged an appeal to remain in the race.

Ironically, after finishing second in his heat in 1:48.98, he had spoken of the need to be careful when manoeuvring to try and win, as he was aware there had been lots of disqualifications at indoor events.

But he had been feeling confident and “ready to go”, while his injured hand didn’t appear to be a concern.

After the ill-fated race, he said: “It’s all a bit of a blur to me, I need to watch it and see exactly what happened.

“I knew there was a gap on the inside; it was slow through 400m and then we wound it up a bit. I saw the gap, I believe I got through, but I think I got nudged either from behind or inside from me and went down.

“I don’t think it was an illegal move but I need to see it again. The guy moved into the outside lane and I just went for it. I don’t know whether it’s my fault or someone else’s fault – but it isn’t meant to be.

“I’m going to be here now to support the team and I’ll take inspiration from the guys. We’ve got an incredible team.”