Donnie Macleod reflects 
on Bermuda gold glory

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Donnie Macleod galloped around the first lap at a quick pace to snake his way through the pack to take his place at the front of the 800m runners.

Then he tactically slowed his pace which had a domino effect on the other athletes who followed his lead and slowed into a pacey rhythm.

And when the race settled into the normal hectic jostling for position which can make the sport seem like chess with va-va-voom and entered the final lap, Macleod put the pedal to the metal, cranked up through the gears to hit full pelt pace once again. By the time his rivals realised what was happening it was too late.

The Stornoway speedster was away and there was no way they would catch him as his blistering race pace took him flying around the final bend which catapulted him to golden glory at the Natwest Island Games.

After back to back silver medals in 2009 (400m) and 2011 (800m) Macleod had risen to the surface as the best of the best and now he has the gold gong to prove it.

“Standing on the podium having won the gold with the Western Isles flag draped around me and with the Bays of Harris playing on the tannoy was a very special moment,” reflected the 26-year-old.

With the experience of five successive Natwest Island Games under his belt Macleod has grown used to the unique pressures and requirements of sprinting on the international stage and this time there would be no denying him top spot.

“When I started the race the guy in the lane outside me was the guy I knew I would have to beat to win gold. So I made my way to the front to make sure I got in front of him then slowed down so it would be difficult for him to get round me,” he explained.

“He seemed to be satisfied with a slower pace and for the first 600m all the athletes were together in what was a bit of a procession. Every single athlete had the chance to win it in the final 200m but then I went for it.

“The other guys played into my hands as I was the fastest sprinter in the field. I think most had the same idea as me and were going to go for it in the final 200m but I went for it around 230m to catch them off guard and I was five or ten metres away from the field by the time they realised what I was doing and they had to try and catch me then.

“When someone goes at that pace, that late there is not a lot anyone can do. As I was sprinting clear I knew I had timed it right and I was confident then I would win the gold.

“It was my fifth Island Games and I was just 18 when I first competed. Every single Games is different and while Bermuda had all the best guys there was less people – simply due to cost and how difficult it was to get there. The Island Games get better every year and it is undoubtedly the highlight of my sporting year.”

Donnie’s sideboard at his family home in Stornoway is already packed with regional and district titles, a pair of silver Natwest Island Games medals and now his prized gold but with the athlete extraordinare having successfully slain his silver dragon he is eyeing up a set of new challenges.

He added: “I’m running in the Scottish Championships this weekend where I’ll be competing in the 800m. At the moment I’m ranked sixth or seventh in the country so my big aim is a medal time.

“Any serious athlete has to have ambitions to make the Commonwealth Games and I’m no different.

“It won’t be easy but I’ll try the best I can to qualify. Outwith that though I desperately want to win a national title. I think my best opportunity for that will be in the indoor championships in February.”