SCOTLAND’S Chris O’Hare will defend his NCAA Indoor mile title for Tulsa University this weekend in Arkansas, having recently run 3.52.98 – the fastest time ever indoors by a Scot for the mile.
O’Hare broke David Strang’s record, set in 1994, and earned praise from middle distance legend Sebastian Coe.
Olympic chief Lord Coe said: “That really is an impressive time from the young man. There is absolutely no doubt about that – outdoors or indoors. But I think it is particularly good for indoors.
“That that bodes very well indeed for Chris and for Scottish athletics. Indoors has traditionally been a very good hunting ground for young competitors who have often made their mark there and then gone outdoors and done the same again. That is a great time, a good step forward for a young athlete, and he has a real opportunity now to develop his career at a high level. That kind of thing can offer an awful lot of encouragement to others in Scotland who are following his progress from this side of the Atlantic.”
O’Hare’s national record-breaking run was also the second best ever by a Briton with Peter Elliott the record holder with 3.52.02 from a run in New Jersey in February 1990.
The 22-year-old O’Hare, who came through the ranks at Edinburgh AC, is a member of the 51-strong scottishathletics Commonwealth Squad, and Scottishathletics director of coaching Stephen Maguire has tipped him for a bright future.
“I believe Chris can be very special,” said Maguire. “In fact, he already is because to win an NCAA Indoor title as he did last year and set a Collegiate Record for the Mile – as he did recently in New York – is quite an achievement.
“`You only have to think of some of the great milers who have come through the American College system to appreciate the scale of that.”
O’Hare was delighted to land the record and said: “The season is so short indoors that there are not all that many opportunities to break a record like that.
“The Wanamaker Mile at the Millrose Games was deliberately set up as a fast race – the organisers were clear about that with two pacemakers. Last year I felt in shape to beat 3.55 and this year I certainly felt that or even 3.54 would be possible.
“I don’t think we were expecting the race to be quite as fast as it turned out.
“I wanted to go out and try and win the race. You know then, with the pace that is being set, that if you even get close to that then you will run a good time yourself.
“My plan was to try to win it and, while that didn’t happen, it certainly was quick! The guys I was racing included against five or six Olympians. I was fourth and of course knew it was a PB, but it was a bit later on, having dinner with my dad and my brother, that my dad mentioned he was sure it would be a Scottish record.
“We’d been thinking about the collegiate record because I’m at Tulsa University. We were over the moon to actually realise it was a Scottish Indoor record as well.
“It is a bit crazy to think no Scot has ever run the mile faster indoors than me. It hits home a wee bit and sinks in what an achievement it is.”