Athletics: Chris O’Hare bags 1,500-metres title

A delighted Chris O'Hare boosted his chances for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year. Picture: Getty
A delighted Chris O'Hare boosted his chances for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year. Picture: Getty
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IT WAS the sort of magical moment we dream of seeing at next year’s Commonwealth Games at Hampden: two Scots winning gold medals within a minute of each other – and with another title already in the bag.

Chris O’Hare claimed the 1,500-metres title just as Andy Frost was confirmed as winner of the hammer competition, while earlier in the afternoon, Emma Nuttall had won the high jump.

The depth of competition here at the Sainsbury’s British Championships is not what it will be in Glasgow, but, even so, this was a seriously encouraging afternoon – especially considering the absence through injury of Lynsey Sharp, and the unavailability of others such as Laura Muir because of the European age-group championships. There were Scots medallists in other field events as well, and there should be two more on the track this afternoon, when Eilish McColgan and Eilidh Child compete in their finals.

O’Hare’s race was the best example of the steady improvement in Scottish athletics, with three others in the field of 12 – David Bishop, Kris Gauson and Alastair Hay – being compatriots of his. Gauson did the eventual champion a favour by injecting some pace after an extremely slow couple of laps, and O’Hare had the power to kick clear down the home straight. Having waited patiently during the race, O’Hare now has a more anxious wait before learning whether he has been selected for next month’s IAAF World Championships in Moscow. He only has a “B” standard so will not go automatically, but hopes he has done enough.

“I haven’t really done any speed work, because I tore my hamstring in May and had three weeks with no work-outs,” said the Oklahoma-based Scot. “I would assume that I’ve done enough, but I wouldn’t want to go celebrating being in the team yet.”

Frost, whose partner, Susan McKelvie, competes in the same discipline today, had a best throw of 72.28m, while fellow Scot Mark Dry was sixth with 66.95. “You can’t expect to throw a season’s best, but I knew I was in good form,” Frost said.

There was an excellent performance in the high jump by Nuttall of Edinburgh AC, who took the title with a new personal best of 1.87m. A clear winner by 10cm, Nuttall went on to attempt 1:90, but fell just short.

“I’m really pleased with that,” she said. “My outdoor season hasn’t really gone as well as I’d hoped, so to come out here and jump that is great.”

Inverness’ Kirsty Law won silver in the discus with a best attempt of 52.75m, and Kirsty Yates from Dalbeattie was third in the shot putt, with 14.27m. Jamie Bowie, who recorded a PB in the 400m heats on Friday, kept up his good form by winning his semi-final.

Dwain Chambers, now 35, won the 100m in 10.03sec, another “A” standard time for the world championships. James Dasaolu had timed 9.91sec in the semi – the second fastest ever by a British athlete, behind Linford Christie – but pulled out of the final after experiencing cramp.

Dai Greene, the team captain at last year’s Olympic Games, reasserted his domestic dominance in the 400m hurdles final as he held off fellow Welshman Rhys Williams. Beaten by Williams here just a couple of weeks ago, Greene made no mistake this time, going out strongly yet still being able to ease off in the closing 30m. The world champion timed 48.66, and the consolation for Williams was a new PB of 48.85.

The championships conclude this afternoon with one of the most awaited races of the three days, the duel between Child and Perri Shakes-Drayton in the women’s 400m hurdles final. Both women won their heats easily yesterday, and although Child has been in excellent form this season, she knows she could conceivably run a new personal best today, yet still lose to her English rival.

“I’ll have Perri alongside me, so there’s no reason I can’t run another PB,” Child said.

“Qualifying for the worlds is obviously the priority. Winning is what you always want to do in any race, and if I win it will mean I’ve run bloody well.”

The Scot has not beaten Shakes-Drayton for several years, but takes heart from the fact that she is at least up there challenging against someone who is expected to be in the shake-up for medals in Moscow. “Because I race Perri so often, and I’m getting closer and closer to her, it makes me more confident.

“You’ve got to respect how good she actually is. Perri’s one of the best athletes in the world – I think she’s third in the world rankings this year – so if I beat her I’ll be delighted. But first and foremost it’s about qualifying for Moscow. She’s one of the real challengers for a medal this year and I want to be there with her.

“It’s a complete rivalry on the track, but we’re friends off it. That’s what athletics is all about. It has to be really – you’ve got to enjoy it.”

That race is around 3.50pm, while Bowie’s final is at 2.20pm and McColgan defends her 3,000m steeplechase title at 2.30pm. The Great Britain team for Moscow will be selected tomorrow and announced at lunchtime on Tuesday.