By Peter Jardine, Head of Communications
Great to be back.
Four short words but arguably the perfect summary to cover off many long, weary months replete with exasperation, frustration and patience in equal measure.
That applies to athletes, coaches, Officials, volunteers or supporters of alike.
There were smiles galore around the Ayrshire Athletics Arena – despite weather conditions which were pretty awful for long spells. And not always behind a mask.
It seemed like the right venue. Back in 2014, Kilmarnock was base camp to our Team Scotland athletes ahead of the Commonwealth Games at Hampden.
A couple of weeks after Glasgow 2014, the same arena staged the Scottish Senior Championships as a feel-good factor coursed through the sport.
It should be noted that Saturday’s 4J Studios Invitational meet was only a small step forward. Getting back to ‘mass’ championship events remains a huge priority.
But what is abundantly clear amid the low temperature, strong winds and heavy rain was this: it is the love to the sport which can ensure athletics in Scotland recovers momentum post-pandemic.
It is also obvious it will require a big collective effort.
Hurdler Mhairi Patience actually told us she sensed a greater togetherness permeating around the track with so many folk simply so pleased to be getting back into competition.
It will undoubtedly take time – and it should be remembered that other Scottish sports will face similar challenges, too. The pandemic isn’t event specific.
But, somehow, it felt like the gun had sounded on the recovery.
Two good finishes to these races as Allan Hamilton edges out Krishawn Aiken (above) over 200m and Katie Purves wins the Women’s 100m Hurdles from Holly McArthur
Patience and Connor Henderson took victories in the 400m hurdles with those and other one-lap races the longest of the day (with current Covid-19 restrictions blocking longer races on the track in Scotland).
Henderson saw off the threat of Daniel Rees and was thrilled.
‘It is just so good to be racing again,’ he said.
‘The uncertainty around events is the biggest problem for any athlete and that can affect your motivation. But this was a decent way to start and I’d love to see everyone competing and contesting medals at a ‘full’ Scottish Senior Champs towards the end of the summer.’
Connor’s Kilbarchan AAC’s club-mate Krishawn Aiken took the men’s 100m in a legal 10.59 but a fine men’s 200m race – which saw Allan Hamilton edge out Aiken by one hundredth of a second at 21.35 to 21.36 – had an illegal +2.6 wind.
Similarly, the women’s 100m won by Alyson Bell at 11.92 was legal but not the 200m, which saw an Aberdeen AAC 1-2-3 as Roisin Harrison took the win in 24.34.
The 400m races were won by two younger athletes in Rebecca Grieve and Brodie Young.
Murray Fotheringham clears the bar with his best of 4:15m a new PB
Henry Clarkson won the men’s triple jump with 14.43 in his final round while youngster Libby White had the best women’s performance with 11:56m.
Murray Fotheringham cleared 4.15m in a pole vault where conditions were tricky to say the least.
There was a strong Para presence across track and field events – with RaceRunners and wheelchair races combining for 100m.
A number of those bound for the WPA Europeans in Poland were in action and it was also good to welcome back Joanna Butterfield in the Club Throw.
‘It’s been 18 months and I’ve not competed since the World Champs (in Dubai in November 2019,’ said Jo, who threw 20.54m.
‘I’ve not been injured, it is just that the competition opportunities have not been there.’
As well as those mentioned, it was good to see familiar faces in action once again like Andrew Murphy, Rachel Hunter, Kelsey Stewart, Alessandro Schenini, Lewis McGuire, Nikki Manson, Howard Bell, Greg Kelly, Andrew Peck, Angus McInroy.
And a whole host of others too many to mention. In fact, let’s give a two-word shout-out to all those who took to the track or field: Welcome Back.
Rachel Hunter and Jo Butterfield in throws action at Kilmarnock