Decent conditions for a change saw a plethora of PBs by the juniors at the East District Champs at Grangemouth over Friday evening and Saturday, with medals for Ethan Elder and Michael Girdler.
But out of all the fantastic efforts, my highlight is actually someone who missed out on a medal by one-hundredth of a second.
Charlotte Clare is a first-year U15 and not yet 13 years old, so one of the youngest in her age-group with a fourth quarter date of birth. Going into these Championships I think she would have been happy with a personal best and maybe making the final. She achieved both of these with her 2nd place heat run, qualifying automatically with a fantastic 6-second PB, and then boy did she go for it in the final with absolute conviction. Through the bell, the leader was away and gone but Charlotte was the one who came out of the chasing pack to open up a wee gap on the rest. Round the top bend and a medal was in the offing if she could hold off the challenges coming from behind. It turned into a three-way tightly packed, elbow clashing battle for silver and bronze all the way down the home straight with nothing in it as the three girls flashed across the line to the oohs and aahs of the crowd in what was the best finish of the day. Bodies went flying just beyond the finish line with several hitting the deck. Another three seconds were slashed from her PB but after the closest of photo finishes, agonisingly it was Charlotte who was just run out of the medals, 0.06s off silver and 0.01s off bronze. But what a run - and a great time of 2.27.25, a massive 9 seconds off her PB going into the day.
Ten minutes earlier Michael Girdler ran an assured race to take the gold medal in the U13 Boys 800m. Amazingly, this was Michael's first ever outing at the distance. Having qualified comfortably enough from his heat he drew a great lane for the final directly inside the two Pitreavie lads who on paper were the strongest in the race. Following his instructions to the letter he tagged onto them and let them drag him through the bell. As the fatigue kicked in round the top bend a 3m gap opened from 1st to 2nd with the same gap again back to Michael in third and for a fleeting moment it looked liked he might have to settle for bronze (which still would have been an excellent first outing). His inexperience probably meant he didn't appreciate that at that stage of any 800m everyone is hurting! Into the home straight Michael ramped it up to close the gaps and produced a great burst of speed to hit the front 40m from home, sprinting home over a second clear with a Scottish ranking topping time of 2.16.70. Top notch from the novice!
The previous evening, Ethan Elder took an excellent bronze medal in the U13 Boys 1500m with his usual gutsy effort, justification indeed for Scottish Athletics responding to pleas to accept his entry after the advertised closing date. (NB don't count on them being so accommodating again, so get your entries in on time!) Ethan's time of 4.57.62 was also a PB and the second time he has broken the 5-minute barrier. Good going given he didn't know he was in the race until the evening before.
Talking of barriers, Kobe Stevens came incredibly close to breaking 2 minutes for the 800m in the U20 Men's race. Favoured by it being a straight final, Kobe ran his usual fast committed 700m but then instead of fading as he usually does (!), the strength was there to maintain his effort down the home straight and he closed in to finish 5th in 2.00.86, a 4-second PB and only 0.80 off the bronze.
Anto Kobus was another relative novice to smash his PB, this time by 5 seconds overall in finishing an excellent 4th in the U17 men's 800m in 2.02.35 and Ailsa Innes dropped her PB by over 3 seconds to 2.23.65 in finishing 5th in the U17 Women's 800m. Both had to run hard heats in PBs to qualify then further improved their times in their finals. On the Friday evening Mairi Wallace had a strong run to take 3.5 seconds off her PB for 5th in the U15 Girls 1500m in 5.15.40.
All encouraging stuff from the juniors.