Greg makes his­tory

East Kil­bride ath­lete wins sec­ond New Year ti­tle

East Kilbride News - - FRONT PAGE - PAUL THOM­SON

Greg Kelly has made his­tory by be­com­ing the first ath­lete since the 1930s to win the fa­mous New Year Sprint twice.

The Ste­wart­field star claimed the £8000 first prize at the 150th edi­tion of the 110m race at Mus­sel­burgh race­course on New Year’s Day, re­gain­ing the ti­tle he won in 2017.

And as if that wasn’t enough, the 19-year-old be­came only the sixth ath­lete in the his­tory of the event to claim a sec­ond ti­tle.

Shell-shocked Kelly, who be­came the first dou­ble-win­ner since Wil­lie McFar­lane tri­umphed in 1933 and 1934, said: “I didn’t re­ally ex­pect to win it be­cause it’s so rare for some­one to do it twice.

“But it was an amaz­ing feel­ing cross­ing the line. I just felt com­plete joy. It’s great to be part of the his­tory of such a big race.

“Win­ning it once was spe­cial but to do it twice and be one of only a few peo­ple to do it has ce­mented my place in the his­tory of the event. I feel a real sense of pride about that.”

Kelly, rep­re­sent­ing EK Ath­letic Club, pipped Kelso’s Dou­glas Young to glory, fin­ish­ing eight-hun­dredths of a sec­ond ahead of his ri­val in 11.50 sec­onds.

Fel­low EKAC ace and de­fend­ing cham­pion Calum McWil­liam fin­ished sev­enth in the hand­i­cap race, cross­ing in 11.74 af­ter reach­ing his fourth fi­nal.

Kelly’s mo­ment of magic was shown live on ITV and footage of his race was even retweeted on Twit­ter by Judy Mur­ray, mother of ten­nis cham­pion and for­mer world No. 1 Andy.

“It was strange see­ing some­one as fa­mous as Judy Mur­ray retweet­ing the video, but that was nice of her,” Kelly beamed.

It was also a day to re­mem­ber for Kelly’s coach Gor­don Bury, who has now guided three con­sec­u­tive New Year Sprint cham­pi­ons to glory.

He said: “It’s hard to find the words to de­scribe the sat­is­fac­tion and sheer ela­tion of see­ing Greg win the sprint.

“It doesn’t just take speed but lots of char­ac­ter to give big starts to good run­ners and come out on top, mak­ing him a truly worthy win­ner of the 150th New Year Sprint.”

Bury, who matched a feat per­formed by one of his coach­ing heroes, Jim Bradley, from 1969 to 71, added: “It is a big team ef­fort and I’d like to thank Greg’s par­ents, girl­friend Sarah-Jane, all our train­ing squad, physio David Gil­mour as well as my own wife and fam­ily for all their sup­port.”

Af­ter his ex­er­tions in Mus­sel­burgh, Kelly put his win­nings to good use by whisk­ing his girl­friend away to Mu­nich.

“It was a treat I’d booked be­fore the race for our two-year an­niver­sary, but the win has come at the per­fect time,” he ad­mit­ted.

“It’s a crazy amount to win. Putting it to use for some warm weather train­ing is some­thing I’m look­ing at, so I’ll try to do that in April or May.

“But credit to Gor­don. The re­sults he has helped Calum and I pro­duce shows that his com­mit­ment and hard work is re­ally pay­ing off.”

Champ Greg Kelly with his tro­phy af­ter win­ning the 150th New Year Sprint (above, right) PICS: SHARON BEV­ERIDGE

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