Right royal victory for Jedburgh sprint legend

Jedburgh's John Steede with some of  the medals won over his illustrious running days.
Jedburgh's John Steede with some of the medals won over his illustrious running days.

On a weekend when a 73-year-old South African surgeon swam the Channel, a little closer to home 72-year-old John Steede from Jedburgh also struck a blow for the ‘mature’ sportsman.

The legendary TLJT athlete and coach made a name for himself once more by dead-heating for first place in the Braemar Games 100 yards handicap, 25 years after he had first won it.

The victory also completed a hat-trick of sprinting success for Steede at the royal venue.

Had the race been a yard shorter, there is no doubt he would have won it outright, but in a dramatic finale, back marker Tom Holligan of Edinburgh Athletics Club closed the gap to breast the tape, along with Steede, in a time of 9.84 seconds.

While the Borderer had a decent handicap, 26 yards, that was offset by Holligan’s youth, a mere babe at 19-years-old, and pedigree – 52 years younger and Scottish sprint champion two years ago.

Speaking after his momentous achievement a breathless Steede stated: “I’m absolutely delighted to win along with young Tom.

“I’m also very pleasantly surprised, as at my advanced years I didn’t expect to win here again.

“I was aware of Tom breathing down my neck at the end, but I just managed to hold on.”

Steede, of course, is no ‘ordinary’ 72-year-old, being a well-known figure in the athletics world, particularly on the Border Games circuit where he has been a mainstay for many years.

Six-time British professional quarter-mile champion, he also once ran against the legendary Tommie Smith of Mexico Olympics’ ‘black power’ salute fame and has competed all over the world with great success in veterans’ athletics.

Two years ago, he was very proud to be selected to carry the Olympic torch in his native Borders, through Selkirk, and this latest success to add to his wins at the same event in 1989 and 1992 has left him feeling “dead chuffed”.

Another royal victory on Saturday was that of Earlston’s Mhairi Henderson in the open 220 yards handicap. Mhairi ran very well to beat Laura McCracken from East Kilbride to the tape.

“It was certainly a memorable day for the TLJT athletes,” added Steede.