Meadowbank: Crowds flock despite Ennis absence

Jayne Nisbet won with a season's best high jump of 1.85m at the Women's Premier League event at Meadowbank. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Jayne Nisbet won with a season's best high jump of 1.85m at the Women's Premier League event at Meadowbank. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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THE absence of Jessica Ennis-Hill robbed Meadowbank of its scheduled main attraction on Saturday but the prospect of watching the Olympic champion in action had, at least, generated enough advance ticket sales to ensure the UK Women’s League would have one of its biggest attendances in years.

If only, you wondered, athletics could always deliver a product worth the price of admission.

Scottish Athletics has set plans in motion to test out new formats for meetings that might lure such crowds on a regular basis. The idea, said Susan McKelvie, will have the support of the competitors. The hammer-thrower produced an effort of 61.47 metres that exceeded the Commonwealth Games qualifying standard. If there had been the usual swathes of empty seats that have become common at such events, it may have been much less.

“It makes for a better competition because it gives you added pressure to go out and perform for them,” said the 28-year-old.

“I wish it was like that all the time. You hope Scottish Athletics could work together with the stadium and the league to promote these meetings. I think there were more people there than were at the Scottish Championships last year. But with the Commonwealth Games coming up, you’d think more people will come out to watch.”

McKelvie was one of the key contributors in Edinburgh AC’s victory in the meeting, topping the standings with 186 points with Trafford coming second. There was poignancy in the Scottish champion’s performance at the venue where she learned her trade under Alan Bertram, the renowned hammer specialist, whose death last month cost her both a coach and friend.

Now, however, she will be guided by one of Bertram’s protégés, former Commonwealth champion Lorraine Shaw, as the countdown to Glasgow accelerates. “It was Alan’s wish and so that’s what we’re going with,” McKelvie said. “We’re all doing it for ourselves but also for him. ”

Jayne Nisbet, so often bested by Ennis in recent years, used the event to move into first place of the UK high jump rankings with a best effort of 1.85 metres. The 24-year-old, who has revealed her long-time battle against an eating disorder, put herself in the frame for a place in Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s team for the European Team Championships in Gateshead later this month.

‘It will be my first senior GB vest if it happens,” she said. “The last time I wore one in competition was in 2007 at the European Junior Champs for triple jump so it has been a while.

“I want to try and get to 1.92, which is the B standard for the World Champs in Moscow, and Gateshead would be a real boost towards that.”

Elsewhere, Meghan Beesley broke a long-standing league record in the 400 metre hurdles to win in 56.43 seconds.