An impressive 763 athletes, 140 heats, and 140 officials, staff and volunteers – that was the tally at the 4J Studios National Open on Saturday.
The first event of the 4J Studios National Indoor Season, it gives a superb chance for athletes of all ages, from across the country, to gather at the Emirates Arena and test themselves before the forthcoming Senior and Age Group Indoor Championships.
The positive atmosphere in the arena, with enthusiastic audiences overlooking both the home and back straights, was equalled on social media, where clubs, athletes and supporters celebrated the achievements of everyone from experienced athletes to the newest entrants to the sport – as exemplified by this tweet recognising the young Greenock Glenpark participants –
@GGHarriers athletes out in numbers today at the @EmiratesArena for the 4J Studios @scotathletics National Indoor Open. For many their first time competing at these events 👏👏 All great experience for our young athletes. pic.twitter.com/JWun7KlrR2
— Marianne McKay (@mazmck1) January 18, 2020
It was also the first event of our newest partnership with 4J Studios, which will cover both the indoor and outdoor track and field seasons, and the scottishathletics Annual Awards.
At an event where no medals are presented and the aim is an early-season test of form, pulling out individual performances is by no means the most accurate reflection of a successful day, but nonetheless some that caught our eye –
In the High Jump, Lewis McGuire (VP Glasgow) had the whole audience behind him as he leapt well clear of the rest of the pack, finishing up with a jump of 2.13. Nikki Manson (Giffnock) jumped to 1.83m, ahead of her own previous best at this particular meet (1.81m in 2018) and clear of the 1.77m she was at this time last year.
Ben Greenwood (Perth Strathtay) enjoyed a significantly drier competition in the Emirates than he had a week prior, when he won U23 Celtic individual gold at Run Stirling XC. Back on the track, he notched up a 3:50.84 in the 1500m. Mhairi Hendry (VP Glasgow) ran 2:07.34 in the 800m, ahead of her 2:09.02 from January last year (that run being at the Senior Champs).
U17 Alyson Bell (Giffnock North), a member of the 4J Studios National Athletics Academy, was fastest of the women in the 60m with a fine run of 7.68 – just short of her 7.65 PB. She pipped Katie Purves (Edinburgh AC), who picked up two PBs on the day – a 7.83 in the 60m and 8.68 in the 60m hurdles. Fraser Angus (Giffnock) dipped under 7 seconds for the first time in the 60m, running 6.99 to come second to Alec Thomas (Kilbarchan) who won the race in 6.97 sec.
Among the younger runners on the day, Tehillah Ikechukw (Law & District) set a new Scottish Record for the U13 200m, running 26.76 to lower the previous mark of 26.83 (subject to ratification) – a superb performance.
Another National Academy athlete, Leah Keisler (Law & District) ran her 400m in 57.29 sec – a solid first 400m ever for the first year U20 athlete, which bodes well for the 400m hurdles outdoors this summer. Rebecca Grieve (Pitreavie) in the 300m had a good season opener and indoor PB of 40.17.
The Triple Jump saw Nony Mordi (Fife AC) continue her comeback with a jump of 12.69, after her 12.29 at the outdoor senior champs at Grangemouth last summer – that being her first competition after five years away from the sport. Chuxx Onyia (Pitreavie) jumped 15.50.
In the long jump, Sarah Warnock (Edinburgh AC) jumped 6.16, just 1cm short of her performance at the Open last year, while Che Richards (Edinburgh Uni) led pool 1 with a 7.37 jump, ahead of Stephen MacKenzie (Pitreavie) with 7.28.
In the shot put, Segae Ugbe (Montrose & District) and Teddy Tchoudja (Shettleston) – both UK top 10 ranked last season as U17s – were in action. There was a 13.12 throw from Segae to lead his pool, while Teddy has now moved into the U20’s and throwing a heavier 4kg shot, achieved 10.93.
Huge thanks must go to everyone who contributed to such a great start to the season, particularly the officials who work so hard throughout the Open, but also all the athletes, coaches, volunteers and staff involved in putting on a day of sport on this scale.