Borders athletes – many of them well-known names from the south’s Summer Games circuit – made an impressive impact as gloomy Monday weather in Musselburgh opened the door on 2018.
The occasion was the 149th New Year Sprint and, on the day, it was third time lucky for East Kilbride’s Calum McWilliam when he sped to victory.
The 22-year- old business analyst had run in the two previous finals of the highly-acclaimed professional 90 metres race but, on both occasions, failed to nail a top three finish, reports Fiona Scott.
That all changed on January 1, however, when McWilliam, running from a 9.75m handicap, swept past Lasswade AC runners William Hutchison (11m) and Kieran Reilly (10) to break the tape in 11.8 seconds.
“My confidence was really high going into it today and I really pulled it out the bag,” said McWilliam, after receiving his trophy and £4000 winner’s cheque.
The weather failed to put athletes or spectators off, as four semi-finals took place in between the venue’s traditional New Year’s Day National Hunt race meeting.
Six Borders athletes were among the 20 hoping to grab a place in the blue riband final.
West Linton’s Stacey Downie and her protégé from Leithenburn Running Club, Rianna Sterricks, along with Tweed Leader Jed Track’s (TLJT) Cameron Caldwell, ran in cross tie three, while Christie Rout (TLJT), Kyle Potts (Hawick) and Ryan Houten (Peebles) went in the following group.
Potts (12m) and Houten (8.25m) made the final, for which the threatening wet and windy conditions swept the course, with the latter notching third place behind McWilliam and Hutchison.
There was local success in the opening day’s athletics the previous day, with Borders middle distance runners claiming a one-two-three in the 800 metres final at Meadowmill Stadium.
Kelso’s Fraser Neil held off a late challenge from training partner Matthew Flemming and Innerleithen’s Dean Whiteford to take the title.
Innerleithen’s Louis Whyte took silver in the youths’ sprint, with Finn Douglas from Lilliesleaf taking third place.
Douglas, who runs for TLJT, also took silver in the 200m for 13-16- year-olds, with Kelso’s Ben Lyall notching third.