Callum Murray was not only making his debut on the open athletic scene, but also attending a games meeting for the first time. The Galashiels teenager was the new kid on the block and a complete unknown.
Come late Saturday afternoon, however, and Murray had written his name all over Earlston Games having won the 90m handicap in sterling style.
Running under the Tweed Leader Jed Track (TLJT) banner, Murray first caught the eye when blitzing to victory in his heat in 9.63 seconds.
Competing from a mark of nine metres, the 18-year-old student then produced the winning goods again in his cross-tie with another impressive run to break the tape in 9.59.
The triumph earned Murray a final spot alongside TLJT runners Darrin Scott (5m) and Tommy Finkle (11m); Andy Stanners (7m), Greg Turnbull (3.5m) and Peter Denholm of Melrose (8m); and Kieran Reilly of Edinburgh (10m).
Strong running Murray had looked the part and in his last outing he produced a powerhouse run from start to finish to win in 9.43 seconds – the fastest time of the day. Stanners emerged second and Reilly third.
Murray told TheSouthern: “I played rugby for Gala Wanderers, but stopped because of an injury and took up athletics.
“Today is the first time I have even been at any games so I didn’t really know what to expect. I just went out and tried my best and was quite surprised by how well I did.”
Murray’s win was one of four TLJT successes at Earlston.
Among the victors was Earlston’s own Bruce Scott who did the business on his home town track by taking the veterans’ 90m handicap.
Following a heat win from his 6m mark, one-time Gala Fairydean footballer Scott scored again in the final when edging out Neil Armstrong of Durham (3.5m) and Geoff Keen of Selkirk (1m) in an exciting finish.
Reflecting on his winning show, Scott said: “I was disappointed in being beaten in my cross-tie in the big sprint as I simply didn’t run well.
“So I then had to totally focus on the veterans’ event. My running improved and it was great to be able to get a win, especially in front of my home crowd.”
Craig Grieve made it a hat-trick of sprint wins for TLJT by coming out on top in the 60m invitation handicap.
Facing hot opposition, Grieve, a young athlete who has a lot to offer, soared to victory ahead of Ryan Charters of Dolphinton and David Rae of Hawick in 7.02 seconds.
TLJT also produced the winner of the 200m handicap in Fraser Welsh (22m). After an excellent heat victory in 22.68, Welsh duly nailed his colours to the mast in the final when storming home in 22 seconds dead.
The other placings went the way of Graeme Armstrong of Edinburgh (30m) and Selkirk’s Allan Smith (18m).
Another TLJT golden boy was 12-year-old Grant Goodfellow (18m) who gave a splendid account of himself to gain the honours in the junior 200m handicap.
Clocking up a winning time of 28.09 in his heat, Goodfellow then pipped TLJT training companions Henry Clarkson (6m) and Matt Dougall (13m) in a closely-fought last encounter.
Hawick’s Rory Anderson (65m) did the business to the full in the 800m handicap ahead of Dunfermline’s Graham Gibson (32.5m) and Broughton’s Gordon Eland (172.5m).
A delighted Anderson said: “There was a decent turnout of runners so it was good to win. It was hard going, though, especially when running into a strong wind, but I managed to pull it off.”
Derek Scott (175m) made it a double for Hawick, winning the 1,600m by holding off TLJT’s Adam Craig (85m) and Hawick’s Gary Law (400m).
Fourteen-year-old Fraser Wardhaugh of Gala Harriers (65m) triumphed in the card’s opening event, the youths’ 800m handicap.
Striding out purposefully, Selkirk runner Zaynah Aziz (150m) showed up well during the early stages of the race and became an established leader.
In the home straight during the last lap, Wardhaugh surged in front and went on to do the necessary ahead of Aziz and Kyle Potts of TLJT (80m) in two minutes and six seconds.
Wardhaugh, who is coached by Neil Renton, said: “I had to run really hard to catch the girl runner as she ran very well and set a good pace. For a while I thought I might not be able to get past her, but I managed to stick in and win.”
Trained by Charlie Russell, Ryan Laidlaw of Innerleithen (17.5m) hit top form to take the No.1 spot in the youth’s 90m handicap.
And appearing at the games for the first time, Josh Abbot of Kelso AC (10m) made it a winning debut in junior 90m final.
Nine-year-old Abbot showed great promise and followed up a heat win with a final victory in 12.12.
The second and third places went to Eve Huxley of Innerleithen (6.5m) and Henry Clarkson TLJT (3m).
Young Abbot (320m) also impressed highly in the youths’ 1,600m when coming in behind winner Joe Armstrong of Durham (160m).
The Matthews 90m sprint for Special Olympic athletes saw Gavin Maule of Galashiels beat Ann Peacock of Innerleithen, Lucy Porteous of Stichill, and Jedburgh pair David Campbell and Craig Sharrat.
z The first two qualifiers for the Border Sports & Leisure Trust-sponsored Classic Meeting which takes place on August 28, were 200m handicap winner Fraser Welsh and 90m open victor Callum Murray, both of TLJT.
Both athletes accepted their invitation to compete over the 150m distance which will be a Champion of Champions Event.
The next qualifiers will be the winners at Hawick Borders Games this Sunday afternoon.