60 Years of Rankings – Arnold Black looks at our throwers

Thursday 18th March 2021

Mhairi Porterfield . . . fourth in our overall top ten for Scottish throwers in 60 Years of Rankings (photo by Bobby Gavin)



In 1960, Simon Pearson, Tom McNab and Tommy Robertson published a typed booklet containing the Scottish Best Performances in 1959.

This was the first time a detailed Scottish rankings list had been published. This initial work was continued annually and led to the formation of the Scottish Association of Track Statisticians.

This year, our historian Arnold Black summarised the top 10 from the rankings in every event and published on the SATS website.

Rankings on the SATS website

Using this summarised ranking, Arnold has scored the ranking lists on a simple points basis – 10 points for first place down to 1 point for tenth place, identifying the athletes who have made the most significant impact over the last sixty years.

There are provisos of course in looking at events in this manner. One is cut-off; current athletes’ careers are not complete and athletes in 1959 would have had earlier careers.

In this article, Arnold looks at our throwers . . .

Sprint rankings article

Kirsty Law is fifth on the Women’s list in terms of 60 Years of Rankings and is liable to move into the overall top ten as her career continues (photo by Sue Gyford)

Certainly, the longevity of throwers is apparent in the rankings and the number one in this list has scored almost double the 276 points with which led the sprint rankings.

As can be seen in the separate Men’s and Women’s lists at the foot of this article, there are some fine champions across the years and that extends to some of those just outside the top tens – Angus McInroy (181) and Paul Buxton (177) on the men’s side, Susan Freebairn (210) and Helen Cowe (209) on the women’s.

10 Navdeep Dhaliwal

Navdeep competed in shot and discus, appearing in the top 10 in 21 consecutive years between 1992 and 2012, during which time she won 8 Scottish titles. She places fourth among the women throwers, although a challenge is on its way from Kirsty Law, just 11 points behind at the end of last year.

9 Meg Ritchie

Meg had a shorter career than others in this top 10, appearing between 1971 and 1986, but within that time she packed in a Commonwealth gold medal in one of her 3 Commonwealth Games, Olympic, World and European finals. She took over the discus mantle from Rosemary Payne and led both the shot and discus rankings for ten straight years between 1975 and 1984.

8 Scot Thompson

Scot was one of our leading shot and discus throwers across the first part of this century, making his first appearance in the rankings in 1998 and bowing out in 2014. He scored across all four throws events in a career that saw him win 7 national shot and 2 discus titles.

7 Neil Elliott

Neil first appeared in the top 10 rankings in the discus in 1990 and over 22 years amassed points primarily in the shot and discus. He also featured in the hammer rankings and from his early days as a multi-eventer, he clocked up top ten positions in the long jump and decathlon as well.

6 Alex Black

The older brother of Chris Black, Alex appeared in the top 10 rankings between 1964 and 1991. Unusually for throwers, his most successful events were the discus and javelin, winning 3 Scottish discus titles and 4 javelin championships.

5 Mike Lindsay

From his first appearance at the head of the shot and discus ranking lists in 1956, Mike Lindsay was never overhauled and retired in 1971 with 16 straight years at number 1 in both events. In a majestic career, he was 5th at the 1960 Olympics and competed for Scotland at 4 Commonwealth Games, winning two silver medals.

4 Mhairi Porterfield

Mhairi has gained points across all the throwing events since her first appearance in the top 10 as Mhairi Walters in the 1997 hammer. She continue to have a big impact 23 years later, leading the shot rankings in 2019 and 2020. She has won 12 shot and hammer titles and is the only current thrower to appear in this top ten countdown.

3 Rosemary Chrimes

The venerable Mrs Chrimes is one of the all-time greats of Scottish athletics, her career highlighted by Commonwealth Games success as Rosemary Payne in the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh.

Her career had already been going 16 years by that stage, with her first rankings appearances coming under her maiden name of Charters in 1954. She was ranked from that year through to 1975, leading the discus rankings in every year from 1962 to 1974.

Her last top 10 appearance was in 1998 when she was only 65, but she has competed well into her 80s.

READ: Arnold Archive piece on Rosemary

2 Chris Black

It was 1968 when Chris Black first appeared in the top 10 rankings, and he was still in there as late as 2007. Best known for his hammer throwing, which saw him compete on the Olympic, World and European stage and represent Scotland at four Commonwealth Games, he also was a capable thrower in other events. His total of 461 points included 118 in the discus, 97 shot and 14 javelin, in addition to his 232 points in his main event. H

is career saw him win five British titles as well as 11 Scottish championships.

1 Steve Whyte

An under the radar winner of this category, Steve Whyte amassed a total of 550 points, spread across the shot (185), discus (160) and hammer (205). Steve has appeared in the Scottish top 10 rankings between 1989 and 2019 and could have gained more points as he only claimed Scottish eligibility in 1989 when he was 25 years old, so earlier years have not been counted.

He represented Scotland at the three Commonwealth Games in the 1990s and has won 11 Scottish National titles.

Here are the top 10 points scorers on the men’s and women’s throws:


1 Steve Whyte, 550 points

2 Chris Black, 461

3 Mike Lindsay, 327

4 Alex Black, 271

5 Neil Elliott, 268

6 Scot Thompson, 266

7 Bruce Robb, 228

8 Russell Devine, 219

9 David Sketchley, 218

10 Laurie Bryce, 191


1 Rosemary Charters/Payne/Chrimes, 419 points

2 Mhairi Walters/Porterfield, 352

3 Meg Ritchie, 262

4 Navdeep Dhaliwal, 255

5 Kirsty Law, 244

6 Alison Grey, 241

7 Mary Anderson, 240

8 Alison Rodger, 227

9 Claire Cameron, 222

10 Heather Stuart/Yule, 219



Tags: Arnold Black, History, Kirsty Law, Mhairi Porterfield

Expand Social Feeds