Rad­i­cal over­haul re­quired to deal with im­age prob­lem

The Herald - Herald Sport - - Update - DOUG GILLON

SOME 3000 ladies and gen­tle­men of Ed­in­burgh so­ci­ety graced Pow­der­hall for the in­au­gu­ral Scot­tish Ath­let­ics Cham­pi­onships in 1883. The meet­ing was “greatly en­hanced by the band of the Gor­don High­landers”, said a con­tem­po­rary re­port in the Glas­gow Her­ald. An­other opined this: “could de­velop into one of the events of the Ed­in­burgh so­cial sea­son.” The pro­gramme for the meet­ing (male ath­letes only) cost tup­pence – 120 for one pound.

Of­fi­cials were ob­sessed with up­hold­ing am­a­teurism.

Fast for­ward to the 115th cham­pi­onships to­day, the last to be held at Scot­stoun be­fore it is re­fur­bished at a cost of £14m. One copy of to­day’s pro­gramme (both sexes) costs three pounds. The or­gan­is­ers are hand­ing out prize money, to coaches as well as ath­letes.

Across the city, at Glas­gow Green, a crowd of 50,000 is be­ing talked up for the World Pipe band Cham­pi­onships. Ath­let­ics there (male only) will be a rel­a­tive side show, but their high­land games event will play to a far big­ger crowd.

Mar­ket­ing is ev­ery­thing, and the last track and field event to be held in Scot­land be­fore the GB team leaves for the World Cham­pi­onships in Ja­pan later this month will do well to top 1000 spectators. This in the city that hopes to host the Com­mon­wealth Games.

Rad­i­cal repack­ag­ing is re­quired. Per­haps th­ese is­sues may sur­face at scot­tishath­let­ics’ an­nual meet­ing this morn­ing. But clubs are pur­port­edly more likely to ques­tion the sums they con­trib­ute in mem­ber­ship fees to the gov­ern­ing body, and pre­cisely what they re­ceive in re­turn. Wail­ing like a tram­pled bag­pipe may be the early or­der of the day.

When that dust clears there is the live ac­tion, and mak­ing a sharp exit from the Brodies­backed cham­pi­onships will be the only Scot­tish male ath­lete in the World team for Osaka.

Andrew Le­mon­cello, who runs the steeplechase in Ja­pan, is in ac­tion in the open­ing event to­day at 1pm, de­fend­ing the 5000m ti­tle.

The Fife ath­lete al­ready has two na­tional ’chase ti­tles, and had en­tered the 1500m for the first time. “Then I re­alised the fi­nal was just 40 min­utes be­fore my flight on the first leg of my jour­ney to the Bri­tish team hold­ing camp in Ma­cau. So I switched,” he said. “I’m us­ing it as a train­ing ses­sion. I’ll sit in, and run the last 3000m hard.”

Af­ter a block of in­ten­sive train­ing, and duty as a sil­ver ser­vice waiter in St An­drews, he is pretty tired, and says not to ex­pect any­thing dra­matic.

Chris­tine Ohu­ruogu re­turns af­ter a dop­ing con­vic­tion be­fore head­ing forJa­pan, and is badly in need of a con­fi­dence ac­cel­er­ant. When she won Com­mon­wealth 400m gold in Melbourne she beat reign­ing Olympic and World cham­pion, Tonique Dar­ling. Now the Lon­don­er­will be un­der in­tense scru­tiny to see if she still has it af­ter a year in limbo. And she can ex­pect to see dop­ing con­trol of­fi­cers at ev­ery step.

But the fastest sight over one lap will be Al­leyne Fran­cique. The man from Gre­nada won the world in­door ti­tle in 2004 and 2007. This week he ran his best this sea­son, 45.36secs in Stock­holm. This is well inside the Scot­tish cham­pi­onship record, but he was merely a bit player in Swe­den as Jeremy Wariner ran the sixth fastest time ever, 43.50.

If do­mes­tic records are to fall to­day, first choice is the javelin with 19-year-old James Camp­bell just 18 cen­time­tres short of the na­tional mark. The na­tive best in men’s one-lap hur­dles is also un­der threat. Pit­reavie’s Francis Smith has Richard McDon­ald’s 51.07 in his sights.

In the in­au­gu­ral cham­pi­onships, rugby and foot­ball play­ers made an im­pact. In­ter-na­tional rugby for­ward William Peterkin won the 100 and 440 yards (10.5 and 51.75) and an­other rugby star, Don Wau­chope, was run­ner-up in the hur­dles. Tom Mof­fat came home from Mon­treal to win the half mile in 2min 00.75sec, only record of the day, and a time beaten only eight times in the next half a cen­tury. A time five sec­onds quicker is un­likely to qual­ify for to­mor­row’s fi­nal.

But two of Bri­tain’s best shot­put­ters, Carl My­er­scough and Scott Rider, will be at Glas­gow Green to­day, rather than at Scot­stoun. It prompts the ques­tion: af­ter 124 years, have the ama­teurs got it right yet?

Pic­ture: Getty Images

AL­LEYNE FRAN­CIQUE: will be the fastest sight over one lap at Scot­stoun and is a real threat to break the Scot­tish record.

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