IT IS classed as one the biggest occasion of the year. The BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards is chance to party and celebrate a year of success and for most sports stars it is too good a chance to turn down.
But Hannah Miley, the Commonwealth Games 400m individual medley winner, has been forced to knock back her invitation, opting instead to fulfil her commitments at the Scottish Gas National Short Course Championships at the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh.
While most of the Scottish Commonwealth Games stars will be in Glasgow for the live television extravaganza tomorrow evening, Miley will be hoping to appear in the finals of the 400m individual medley, the 200m freestyle and the 200m breaststroke. Her decision should be applauded.
“Unfortunately, I won’t make it to the awards,” explained the 25-year-old Garioch swimmer who is coached by her dad, Patrick. “It is tough not to go and I am gutted. But it’s all about getting ready for next year.
“Sport is a short career and I have to make the most of it. My swimming will last only so long. I also feel that it is unfair on the spectators. People pay to come to the Commonwealth Pool and watch the swimming. It would be unfair if they come along on Sunday night and find that people are not here.”
Miley, a two-times Olympian, opened the three day Championships last night with two Scottish titles and a rather strange disqualification in the 100m breaststroke. It was on a technicality but she admitted: “I’m not sure why, but it wasn’t my event so I’m not too worried.”
But the winner of a bronze medal in the 400m medlay in last week’s World Championships in Doha was delighted with her gold medal in 2:09.39 in the 200m medley and a Scottish title behind three international competitors in 2:10.35 in the 200m butterfly.
“I struggled a year ago in the short course season, but this was a lot better,” said the experienced Scot. “It’s all stepping stones and I’m definitely still going in the right direction
It’s been a tough year for Craig McNally, but it ended on a high note when he won the 200m backstroke in a personal best time.
As the No 1 in the Commonwealth going into Glasgow 2014, the Warrender 21-year-old had been one of Scotland’s medal hopefuls for the Commonwealth games in Glasgow in the summer, but his chance of a spot in the limelight was scuppered by illness.
In yesterday’s final, he showed he was back to his best, coming back from half a second adrift at the final turn to win in 1:52.54. Jonny Carlisle (City of Sunderland) was second in 1:54.12 and British Champion Roberto Pavoni (Loughborough University) was third in 1:53.72.
“I had a viral infection during the Commonwealth Games,” explained McNally. “I did a PB in the 100m but then couldn’t fight off the illness before the 200m. I tried, but it didn’t go to plan.
“Everything was solely about the Commonwealth Games, so it has definitely not been the best year.”
McNally added some Christmas frivolity to the occasion by walking to his blocks in a Santa outfit – “we’re doing it at Warrender to raise money for charity” – and he’s now looking ahead to some great celebrations in 2015. Having swum for Team GB at Barcelona in 2013, a second World Championships in Russia next August is the main goal for the Edinburgh swimmer.
“I want to see how close I can get to the medals and then it will be onwards and upwards to (the Olympic Games) in Rio.”
Dan Wallace, the Commonwealth 400m medley champion, began his meet with a win in the 100m medley.
He touched in 54.45 secs, just holding off the experienced Englishman, Liam Tancock (55.85 secs).
Wallace will be going to the BBC bash tomorrow night – and it means he won’t be swimming in the 400m medley on Sunday evening.
Two Scottish records were broken. Edinburgh University’s Jack Thorpe clocked 21.94 secs in becoming Scottish Champion in the 50m freestyle and Warrington Warrior’s Kathleen Dawson clocked 27.23 secs in taking the women’s 50m backstroke national title.
Craig McLean collected two Scottish junior records – 22.69 secs in the 50m freestyle and 1:57.50 in the 20m backstroke – and other Scottish junior records went to Tain Bruce – 2:10.92 in the 200m freestyle – and Meg Finnon – 8:37.16 in the 800m freestyle.