ROSS WEIR has been knocking at the door of a sprint handicap win throughout the Borders Athletics summer season.
At a sun-drenched Langholm Common Riding Games, however, the knocking stopped.
For Hawick man Weir not only opened the door, he blew it off its hinges in gusting to a merited and deserved win in the 90m handicap.
A former victor of the Jedburgh and Kelso Games sprints, 51-year-old Weir showed he had something to offer in his heat when surging home in 9.48 seconds from his 19m mark.
In his cross-tie, Weir came in second, edged out by Bruce Scott of TLJT (17.5m).
With the first three qualifying, the Hawick veteran found himself in the final along with Scott and another two TLJT athletes, Stephanie Common (21.5m) and Lee Goodfellow (12m), plus Peter Denholm of Melrose (9m) and Durham’s Neil Armstrong (13m).
Weir had been in this spot four times previously this term. But this time around there was to be a different ending.
This time around it was Weir’s day. Shooting out of the blocks he duly produced the best run of the handicap in blitzing to victory in 9.02. Common, who was appearing in her first sprint final, emerged second and Scott third.
Summing up his success, Weir told TheSouthern: “It’s been a long time in coming as today was my fifth final of the season and I was beginning to think I was never going to get a win.
“Going by the previous times I knew I would have to be at my very best to beat Bruce Scott. A good start in particular was very important and I managed to get that and just went for it from there.”
Defending the title he won so convincingly a year ago, Nick Smith of Shaftsbury retained the Border Athletics 90m crown in style.
The Scottish amateur internationalist won hands down, hitting the tape well ahead of TLJT pair Greg Turnbull and Craig Grieve.
A triumphant Smith said: “I normally run on a tartan track in the amateur scene, but I am starting to get used to grass now after appearing at more games meetings.
“I am very pleased to have won the 90m championship again and I have now managed to pull off a double as I won the 100m championship at Jedburgh Games. There is a great atmosphere at Langholm and I really enjoy running here”.
Hawick’s James Parker (16m) pulled out the stops to gain the honours in the 200m handicap. The versatile Parker, who spent a season playing East of Scotland League football as a 14-year-old with Hawick Royal Albert before switching codes to rugby, powered to a fine heat victory.
From the Billy Edgar stable, the 16-year-old then hit full throttle again in an exciting final with a great run to win narrowly from training companion David Hush of Hawick (38m). Francis Smith of Pitreavie (11m) came in third.
In the 400m handicap, Fifer Graham Lister of Kirkcaldy (14m) gave an excellent account of himself, racing in from the back to win. Andrew Thomson of Jed AC (33m) and Wallace McGowan of Sauchie (28m) gained the other places.
Hitting his best form of the season Greg Gibson (75m) put victory Selkirk’s way by triumphing in the 800m handicap. Coached by David Knox and Steve Nisbet, 25-year-old Gibson was in third place at the beginning of the last lap. Running well and looking positive, he then moved up a gear to take the lead and strode on to emerge a fine winner.
Hawick’s Ged Smith (135m) finished second and 400m winner Lister (37.5m) third.
Competing from a back mark position of 40m in the 1,600m handicap, Kelso’s Colin Welsh gave one of the best shows witnessed in distance events this season.
The Adie Gray-trained Tweedsider produced a red hot show that more than matched his win in the 800m handicap at Ambleside Games the previous day.
He soon began to move through the field and, during the final lap, took the lead. There was only one winner from there on.
Stuart Somervail of Jed AC (165m) and Gary Law of Hawick (355m) got the other spots. Immediately after his win, Welsh said: “It was very warm for running and it was hard going, so I am a bit sore and tired. However, it’s all worth it when you win.”
Hawick schoolboy Ronan McKean (12.5m) chalked up his first win on the circuit by taking pride of place in the junior 90m handicap. A beaten finalist in the Oxton Games junior sprint, McKean won his heat despite having been pulled a metre for a false start. In the final, McKean emerged a photo-finish victor over Marshall Smith of Gala Harriers (17.5m) and Daniel Elliot of Hawick (7m).
The youths’ 90m handicap was also decided by the camera. Jasmin Tomlinson (17m), one of many up-and-coming prospects within the TLJT club, got the judges’ verdict, pipping Selkirk’s Kerr Gerrard (9m) and Cameron Grieve of Jed AC (3.5m).
After having gained a place in the final of the junior 200m by coming in second in her heat, Bethany Wardhaugh of Gala Harriers (9m) really shone in the last showdown, just getting the better of Marshall Smith of Gala Harriers (34m) and Daniel Elliot of Hawick (14m).
Jenna Gillan of TLJT (31m), who always gives her best, produced the goods to come out on top in the youths’ 200m handicap. Following an impressive heat win, Gillan starred again in a keenly-contested final when beating Cameron Grieve of TLJT (7m) and Daniel Chapman of Kelso (15m).
Moorfoot youngster Ruaridh Britton (125m) continued with his recent winning streak when emerging a clear victor of the youths’ 800m handicap. Robson McKay of Nithsdale (120m) finished second with Rian Dougal of Leithenburn (220m) third.
After having watched his dad Neil and younger brother Scott both get into the winning frame at Oxton, Joe Armstrong of Durham (130m) raced to victory himself in the youths’ 1,600m handicap by coming in ahead of Kelso’s Josh Abbot (320m) and Craig Angus of Leithenburn (340m).
This was the third time in succession that the young North East of England runner has won the event.