BORDERS athletes made their mark on the national professional circuit on Sunday by nailing all three podium places in the inaugural Pitreavie Gift Sprint.
TLJT runner Darrin Scott (9m) took first place in the main event.
The 20-year-old apprentice joiner from Ancrum won heat four of 18 in the morning in 10.87 seconds, and was one of the six fastest heat winners seeded for the cross-ties. As only cross-tie winners were going through to the final, he had to pull out all the stops to ensure qualification. He did so, as indeed did all of the six seeded runners who appeared in the final.
Backmarker for the final was Antony Daffurn of Kilbarchan AC (2.5m) who had won heat eight ahead of TLJT man David Rae (6m). Although false-starting in his heat, Ainslie Chinembiri of Edinburgh (3.5m) was fastest up in heat 15 in an amazing 10.86 secs and that was without using starting blocks.
Hugely fancied after his heat was TLJT youngster David Edwards (7.5m) who qualified through heat nine. He was runner-up in the final after a photo finish with Scott and veteran Tommy Finkle of TLJT (10.5m), who was given third place.
Scott received the Ricky Dunbar donated victor’s sash, the Wilma Taylor Memorial Sword and the winner’s purse from Dunfermline FC legend Jim Leishman.
Speaking after the presentations, a delighted Scott told TheSouthern: “Everyone has been training really hard throughout the winter and we were really going all out to get the first three places.
“I wasn’t too happy in my cross-tie, I felt a bit tight during it and then again in the warm-up for the final. I felt fine for the race itself, though, and that’s what matters at the end of the day. I have my trainers Bruce Scott and Charlie Cochrane to thank for that. I think we had a really good winter and training with good athletes every day really helps too.”
Scott received the winning purse of £1,000 but on Sunday thinking of how to spend his winnings was the last thing on his mind.
“It’s been such a great atmosphere here today and we have all really enjoyed it,” he added. “It’s not about the money at all. To win my first adult event at the first Pitreavie Gift and be the first to wear the sash is just amazing, all that is worth far more than the money.”
Leishman was present throughout the day as a trustee of the Mary Leishman Foundation, a charitable organisation set up in memory of his late wife, which has been instrumental in assisting in the organisation of the Gift meeting.
He told us: “The whole event has been tremendous and is a credit to organisers. Sometimes the first event is the hardest one in terms of attracting entries and sponsorship etc, but the committee here has done an excellent job.
“It’s great to be part of it and I’m so proud because it has been such a great day. One of the aims of meetings like this is to encourage potential and watching the youngsters today from the Borders and all over Scotland – it has certainly achieved that. They will get stronger, they will get better and they will gain from the whole experience.
“The youths’ sprint finals and the seniors was great to watch, but I must also pay tribute to the veterans. My legs didn’t go as fast as that when I was 20, so all credit to them.”
The concept of the Gift meeting derived from a similar event held in Australia and the Pitreavie Gift committee, including Innerleithen’s Ron Sutherland, are delighted with the outcome.
Sutherland said: “There has been only positive feedback from everyone who was there to witness it.
“It certainly shows the way ahead for these kind of meetings. The excellent facilities, provided by Pitreavie Sport and Leisure Trust, encourage excellence which was evident from the performances of the local athletes.
“Also, the support we have received from all of our sponsors and supporters has been truly magnificent and I wish to thank them all on behalf of the directors.
“We will definitely be back next year.”
It’s a promise that will certainly please TLJT coach Bruce Scott, who added his backing.
“The meeting has been fantastic and I think it’s a breath of fresh air having an event like this just ahead of the indoor season. It’s something new and everybody here today has embraced it,” he said.
“We are delighted with our runners today. Both Darrin and David do a lot of hard work in the gym with Charlie (Cochrane) and a lot of hard work on the track with us. We were interested to see how Darrin would deal with the pressure and he did everything that was asked of him. You can’t ask for anything more.”
Many other athletes from the Borders, along with their supporters, made the journey to Dunfermline to take part in the inaugural event, with success also going the way of Holly MacKay (Jed AC) and Ewan Pettigrew (Kelso) who took second and third respectively in the 150m youths’ final, both clocking 17.25 seconds. Craig Smith (TLJT) and Phillipa Robertson (Hawick) were fourth and fifth in the same event.
TLJT youngster Zoe Pflug, 11, punched well above her weight to take second in the 800m youths, while Selkirk’s Geoff Keen took third spot in the 90m veterans’ final.