IF AT first you don’t succeed ...
After five weeks of try, try, trying again for victory on the 2012 Border Games circuit, Hawick’s Dylan Ali finally broke the tape on Sunday at Kelso’s Poynder Park. And his delight shone through.
In a break with tradition the open 200m event became the feature race at Sunday’s well-attended extravaganza, due to the lucrative £300 prize money put up by Jedburgh-based fast food outlet Ozkan’s Grill.
And 17-year-old Sainbury’s worker Ali certainly had no idea what was in store for him, judging by his reaction on the finish line following his victory.
“I just can’t believe it,” he told TheSouthern. “I’m so chuffed to have finally won.”
Racing at his sixth meeting on the Borders circuit, TLJT runner Ali (18m) admitted that he had almost given up on the idea of winning after reaching the finals at the five previous events (1x90m, 1x200m, 3x110m) and failing to notch a victory.
But on Sunday there were no doubts when he took his heat win in 22.60 seconds before going on to tear up the track in the final to take a clear win in a time of 22.19.
Ali’s TLJT clubmates Graeme Scott (20m) and Craig Grieve (9m) were second and third respectively, while brother Leon (20m) was just pegged back into fourth place.
Dylan added: “I absolutely love running the 200m. I got an OK start and when I came off the bend I realised I was in a good place so I just went for it.
“It was fantastic. I really have to thank my coach David Rae and my brother Leon. They have both been superb and the support from both of them has been tremendous.”
Pushed back in the programme to an earlier time slot, the 100m sprint event was by no means any less exciting.
And it was another Hawick man who took the honours as David Grieve (15.5m) sailed through in 10.19 seconds, with Edinburgh’s Graeme Armstrong and home boy John Fleming taking the remaining places.
Grieve, who runs the Edgar/Grieve running school with Billy Edgar, was thrilled with his win.
He told us: “That feels just great. It’s been three years since I last won a sprint handicap, so as you can imagine I’m gey chuffed.
“I’ve been training hard, but there have been a few niggles. Everything was fine today, though, and that’s what matters.”
The large Kelso support really got behind the runners in the 1,600m, where a host of local athletes were hoping to shine on their home track. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, as Dunfermline runner Fergus McGaw (160m) maintained a steady pace throughout before launching a final push to win.
Rory Anderson (Hawick) was second with John Thomson (Coaltown) third. Kelso’s Darrell Hastie (5m) deserves a special mention after coming from his joint back-marker position to be just edged out of the final three with a fourth-place finish.
In the first race of the day Langholm’s Iain Little (103) took victory in the 800m, with Jed AC runner Andrew Thompson (80m) and Kelso back-marker Colin Welsh (5m) clinching second and third.
Matters were equally thrilling in the youths’ and juniors’ events with a bigger than ever entry of youngsters all vying, not only for victory on the day, but for points that will take them through to the Classic meeting at the end of the season.
Leithenburn’s Bryony Patterson (5m) has been a consistent performer on the circuit all season and was rewarded again on Sunday with a win in the juniors’ 100m, ahead of Hawick’s Barry McLean (7.5m) and Jed AC runner Cameron Fisher (4.5m). The 12-year-old from Innerleithen now heads the junior league table by 10 points.
In the 200m, Nicole Campbell, 18, from Hawick, took the honours with Moorfoot’s Ryan Hood and TLJT’s Matt Dougall (5m) in second and third.
The youths’ sprints have been highly competitive this season and last weekend was no exception, with Hawick’s Kyle Brunton (16m) and league leader Eoin Lowther (14m) from Jed AC dead-heating in the 100m final. Hawick’s Megan Shiel (17.5) wasn’t too far away in third. The 200m went to TLJT’s Kyle Potts (17m), with Ryan Houten (22m) from Cardrona in second and Kelso’s Euan Pettigrew (9m) in third.
Home supporters were rewarded for their enthusiasm and patience nearer the end of the day when 14-year-old Jason McIntosh (185m) came up the finishing straight to the biggest cheer of the meeting in the youths’ mile. The youngster was picking up his second victory of the weekend, having won the 800m at Oxton the previous day, and has duly edged his way into the lead on the youth distance league table.
McIntosh, who began the race with the majority of the field in front of him, told us: “I was pretty knackered, but I just managed to keep on going, it’s pretty special to win in front of a home crowd.” Gala Harrier Joey Brown (330m) took second place with Berwick’s Nathan Cox in third.
The youths’ 800m was won by Eyemouth-based Gala Harrier Cameron Burnett (60m) with Moorfoots’ Ailsa Innes (180m) and Jed AC runner Jack Amos (180m) taking the other two places.