Francis Smith has topped Arnold Black’s assessment of 60 Years of Rankings . . . the hurdler is one of our National Club Managers
60 YEARS OF RANKINGS
scottishathletics Historian, Arnold Black, continues to look at the last 60 years of Scottish rankings.
This week, the focus in on the hurdling events, combining the sprint hurdles and the steeplechase.
The events covered are the sprint hurdles, 400m hurdles and the 3000m steeplechase. It should be noted that the 400m hurdles for women only began in 1973 and the steeplechase did not start until 2001.
The steeplechase does not lend itself to durability and none of our combined top ten competed in that event, although our outstanding steeplechaser Tom Hanlon features in the men’s top 10.
Here’s the overall top ten list for ‘over the barriers’ . . .
10 Alan Murray
Edinburgh Southern Harrier Alan Murray was a three-times Scottish 440 yards hurdles champion from 1966 to 1968 and represented Scotland in the sprint hurdles at the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh. He topped the 440yH rankings three times and appeared in the top 10 rankings in both hurdles events from 1963 through to 1972.
9 Lorna Rogers
Dundee Hawkhill hurdler Lorna Silver-Rogers ranked in the top 10 between 1991 and 2007, leading the 400m hurdles rankings in 1992. She won national titles at the longer event in 1992 and 1999, then added the sprint hurdles title in 2000 in a career which saw her accumulate 15 Scottish championship medals indoors and out.
8 Gordon Brown
One from the start of the 60 years, Bellahouston Harrier Gordon Brown first appeared in the Scottish top 10 in 1958 and continued to 1970. He won the Scottish 120 yards hurdles title in 1964 and the 440 yards hurdles title the following year. Between 1960 and 1967 he featured in the top ten rankings in both hurdles events each year.
7 Catriona Pennet
It is now 20 years since Aberdeen’s Catriona Pennet first appeared in the sprint hurdles rankings and she would almost certainly have still been there in 2020 if not for the Covid pandemic.
During her career in hurdles, she has won a remarkable 24 national championship medals, indoors and out, including the one gold medal at the 2011 championships. Although not known for the longer hurdles event, she has achieved six top ten rankings at 400 hurdles.
6 Angus McKenzie
An outstanding multi-eventer, Gus holds the distinction of being the first British athlete to clear 7 feet in the high jump, but he was also a talented sprint and long hurdler.
He represented Scotland at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in the sprint hurdles and relay and was Scottish 400 hurdles champion the following year. He featured in the hurdles rankings between 1973 and 1985, leading the 110 hurdles rankings three times.
Chris Baillie in Commonwealth Games action in Delhi . . . photo courtesy of Commonwealth Games Scotland
5 Chris Baillie
The current Scottish national record holder with 13.44 for 110 metres hurdles, Chris has accumulated all his points from the single event. He has won 5 Scottish sprint hurdles titles and featured in the rankings every year between 1998 and 2014, topping the lists on 7 occasions. His Scottish record will be 15 years old this year.
4 Jane Low
Glasgow athlete Jane Lindsay/Low made her first appearance in the sprint hurdles rankings in 1977, leading that event’s rankings in 1985 and 1988, before focusing on the 400 metres hurdles in 1990. She led the rankings for the longer event in 1994 and 1995, representing Scotland at the 1994 Commonwealth Games and winning three national titles. Her span in the rankings lasted an incredible 23 years.
3 Fiona Laing
Possibly better known under her maiden name of Fiona Macaulay, Fiona was prominent across all the hurdles events, winning national championships at 100m, 200m and 400m hurdles.
The 200 metres hurdles was the intermediate event until the 400 was established in the mid-1970s. When she bettered 60 seconds for the longer event in 1979, she was only the second Scot to achieve this, the other being the then national record holder Liz Sutherland. Ranked between 1973 and 1982, she returned 10 years later to again rank in the top five.
2 Eilidh Doyle
First appearing in the top ten rankings under her maiden name of Eilidh Child in 2003, the Pitreavie athlete led the 400m hurdles rankings every year from 2008 until 2018.
She has won four British hurdles titles and three Scottish ones and represented Scotland at three Commonwealth Games, winning three silver medals. The most honoured of any Scottish hurdler, she has represented Great Britain in the 400m hurdles at five World Championships, two Olympic Games and 3 European Championships, not to mention relay appearances and indoor 400 metres flat.
1 Francis Smith
Leading our review and confirming Pitreavie AAC’s dominance of the category is Francis Smith, who first appeared in the sprint hurdles rankings in 2000 and in the 400m hurdles two years later. He was still there in the 110m hurdles rankings in 2018.
During that period he led the 400m hurdles rankings on five occasions and gathered seven outdoor championship gold medals across the two events with five silver and five bronze medals.
If I had included the indoor 60m hurdles where he medalled on 10 occasions, five of them gold, he would have had an even bigger margin at the top of this list.
Here are the top 10 points scorers for men and women ‘over the barriers’
1 Francis Smith, 202 points
2 Chris Baillie, 151
3 Angus McKenzie, 150
4 Gordon Brown, 143
5 Alan Murray, 133
6 Tom Hanlon, 125
7 Jack Lawrie, 123
8 Neil Fraser, 119
9 Allan Scott, 115
10 Martin Lipton, 113
Eilidh Doyle in full flight at her third Commonwealth Games . . . with a signature image for Gold Coast 2018 from Bobby Gavin
1 Eilidh Child/Doyle, 166 points
2 Fiona Macaulay/Laing, 156
3 Jane Lindsay/Low, 155
4 Catriona Pennet, 145
5 Lorna Silver/Rogers, 137
6 Avril Jackson, 114
7 Jocelyn Kirby/Harwood, 110
8 Margaret Marshall/Southerden, 110
9 Alyssa Fullelove, 103
10 Katy Sketchley, 102