This years annual Western Isles Track and Field Championships took a leap forward in time as the new electronic timing photo finish equipment was successfully used for the first time at Smith Avenue. The recent acquisition of this highly accurate equipment to time track events brings athletics in the Western Isles to the place that even a race with a difference of one hundredth of a second race placings can be identified!
The championships were very well attended with ninety five competitors taking part in 36 different track events (plus heats) and forty field events. The script could not have been written any better as the new photo finish technology was put to the test! At 10.45 am the hurdles were set out on the home straight for the boys age 11, 70m and under 14 girls 75m hurdles. As the starter’s gun was fired the electronic equipment was activated, history made and a cracking race between young Alfie MacMillan and Ross Budge thrilled the spectators. But the race went to the line and both adjudged the same finishing time and hardly possible for the keenest of eyes to separate. Now sitting in the officials shed SRAC’s newly qualified timing officials Spike MacIntosh and Seamus McTaggart had their very first test in the very first event using photo finish technology! 14.72 and 14.73 seconds were the times given for the boys, a mere one hundredth of a second between the two with Ross just squeezing in ahead of Alfie. What a start to the day!
The day’s events continued with a full mix of abilities throughout all the age groups but all with a high level of enthusiasm. The range of athletes’ age went from 9 years to veteran 55 categories and from the novice to some of those who will be representing the Western Isles ant this year’s NatWest World Island Games in the Isle of Wight.
In the youngest entrants events there was fine potential on show with superb sprinting from Evan Trayner and Sian MacDonald in the boy’s and girls 75 and 150 meter sprints respectively. Running really well in the distance event was Ellie Maclean. Uist’s Morina Popova was the top performer in her age category along with club mate Karen Aitken throughout the events but Emily Munro of SRAC offered really good competition.
There was also fine consistency from some of the athletes with Eilidh MacLeod (SRAC) and Taylor Linich (NUAAC) picking up three gold medals in the under 14 events. Jenny McTaggart continued her good recent form at the schools championships with home performances of three gold’s including two new P.B’s in 100m (13.01) and LJ (5.05m) and a first time jump through the 5 m barrier. These take her to number two in the Pof10 rankings for 100m and Long Jump for U15 girls in Scotland.
In the longest race of the day, the 3000m there were very good performances from Kenneth MacSween (U16 SRAC) and North Uist‘s U18 athlete Graham Black. Both have run plenty cross country races of this distance but seldom on the track. But both seem to do well over 3K, only in April past Graham tried his first 3K and in the following two or three races has improved his times to 10minutes 46.52.
In the throws events Connor MacLean and Karen Finnie were the pickoff the day, but Troy Scott, Finlay Summers and Ceitlin MacKenzie are all performing very well in the younger age groups.
Stornoway Running & Athletics Club are very pleased the Championships were so well attended and supported. There was a lot of help offered from parents and the visitors North Uist Athletic Club that ensured a well organised event and now with top technology! Particular thanks to all the newly qualified track and field officials, Spike and Seamus on photo finish and not forgetting the traditional timekeepers on the lines Jim Warnock, Nikki Arthur and Lesley Graham. What ever moans there may be about provision in the Western Isles there can be no complaints for the superb facilities provided by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar at Smith Avenue Track and Field facility (or Lionacleit). Similarly sized and larger towns in the Highland Region just do not have what is available in the Western Isles (World Island Games 2017 Western Isles?)