The latest trip in a very busy and successful season of athletics for Western Isles athletes saw a small SRAC squad, along with one honorary Uibhisteach, head to Grangemouth for the U17 and Scottish Senior Championships last weekend.
A legacy of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, there has been a big increase in youngsters taking part in athletics across the country.
This meant that for the first time all of the Age Group Championships weren’t able to happen over the same weekend. With the U17 championships happening on the same weekend as the Seniors it meant an extra trip, but also an extra opportunity for some of the club’s U20s to get a taste of the action at senior level.
On Saturday the top performances came from 2 young island jumpers in the U17 Triple Jump events.
Annabel MacKay of Stornoway jumped well to make the final, and finished 8th with season best 9.68m jump – just short of her PB, a performance which sees her ranked 14th nationally.
Meanwhile Donald John MacMillan of North Uist Athletics Club had a great series of jumps, with 2 PB jumps. His best jump of 11.56m saw him clinch 6th place, a great showing by DJ who’s currently ranked 11th nationally.
The U17 100m also saw Andrew Horne and Mary MacLeod in action along with DJ in very strong fields.
All ran well, but only Andrew progressed from the heats to the semi-finals, with his best time of 11.81 coming in the semi-finals.
In the U17 800m SRAC’s Ali Binns ran a typically committed race in his heat, leaving nothing on the track.
He finished in 8th place, his time of 2:16.37 just outside his PB. His training partner, Joanna Gillies also ran well in the U17 1500m final, finishing in 11th place in a time of 5.11.87, and the chance to test themselves against the best in the country will only make them stronger as athletes.
It was great to see the cross section of athletics events the Western Isles athletes were involved in, with U17 Haran Rabe representing the throwers. Haran was in action in the hammer on day 1.
This is a new event for Haran and while he was disappointed with his performance on the day, the fact that he’s currently ranked in Scotland’s top 10 shows the potential that is there with the right support.
Sunday, and Day 2 was another busy day for the island athletes.
The top performer was U17 Stornoway sprinter, Andrew Horne.
He progressed well from the 200m heats and semi-finals, finishing 2nd in both races, and qualified for the final with the 3rd fastest time - his 23.45 semi-final run close to his PB.
He had another excellent run in the final, surging through at the end, but agonisingly missed out on the bronze by just 4 hundredths of a second, finishing 4th in 23.50.
Andrew’s training partner U20 Ross Mactaggart also had a fine run as he took part in the Senior Championships, a real step up.
Ross stuck to his task well, running his own race, coming home 5th in his heat. His reward was a PB of 23.85, and the gaining of a lot of experience.
In the field, U17 jumpers Mary MacLeod and Annabel MacKay jumped well, but found it difficult to hit the board on the day, and were just short of their PBs.
Haran Rabe was also in throws action again, and came away with a well deserved Shot Put PB of 10.18m as he finished 10th, a performance that sees him ranked 28 nationally.
There was also a fine debut for SRAC’s Belgian based athlete, Euan Campbell in the Senior Men’s 3000m Steeplechase. He ran well to finish in 5th place in a time of 9:45.54 which ranks him 8th in Scotland.
In the 800m races in the Senior Championships, SRAC athletes, Donnie MacLeod and Peigi McKellar, were in action for the first time this season. Donnie came home in 2:01.45 to finish 5th in his heat, while Peigi, in a straight final, battled hard to run 2:28.61 in what was a quality field.
There was plenty to be positive about as got their track and field season underway, and it stands them in good stead with the Island Games qualifying times firmly in their sights.
The focus this weekend moves to the U13, U15 and the U20 Championships – the final trip of the T & F season.
Once again there will be a healthy SRAC presence in Grangemouth across the events, with a strong squad of 17 travelling.
Look out for a report in next week’s paper.