If a legitimate case is to be made for replacing Meadowbank Stadium and upgrading, rather than demolishing, its athletics infrastructure, then one finish-line photo in Birmingham would speak louder than the most eloquent advocate.
Chris O’Hare, both fists clenched, surging to victory in a classic 1500 metres final at the UK’s world championship trials, all craft and grit in unison.
Just adrift, Josh Kerr, the teenage titan newly returned from the USA where he currently holds the outdoor and indoor collegiate titles.
Separated only by a sliver of a second from Jake Wightman, recent victor at the Diamond League in Oslo. All sculpted within the great old track of Edinburgh, with their fellow Scot Neil Gourley the token Glaswegian in fourth.
O’Hare, ascending to the throne, relished keeping the pretenders at bay. “I looked at the start list,” revealed the 26-year-old father of one. “I thought ‘I’m the second-oldest guy in this field’. So it’s good to lead the young guys and show them that the dad still has some tricks up his field. British Champs is always a tactical affair about who is in the realms of being fittest. And I’m confident I’m one of the fastest.”
It was all the more impressive because he so nearly withdrew when his hamstring began to gnaw yesterday morning. The final decision to proceed came at the very last. “Warming up was scary. I spent most of my warm-up on the physio bed just so it doesn’t cramp up on me when I did a stride. That was worrying and I wasn’t entirely sure I was going to start. And then I wasn’t sure I was going to finish. With 300 to go, I just thought ‘I have to get this done’. It was sore but not sore enough.”
The top two assuredly will be in London next month. Wightman must wait, though he is unlikely to miss out, but Kerr timed his late charge to utter perfection to snatch silver and remove any doubts.
“I tried to make sure I wasn’t making a tonne of noise so he didn’t know I was coming,” he said. “I was all out down the home straight. I had nothing else. I knew I had to dip. If he had done it, he would have got me. We were both just giving it all we had.”
Lynsey Sharp must sweat on her worlds spot after ending up third in the women’s 800m behind rivals Shelayna Oskan-Clarke and Adelle Tracey while Guy Learmonth now has to chase the qualifying mark despite his silver in the men’s 800m. Yet new names will get their opportunity with Zoey Clark, one of this summer’s breakthrough artists, superbly underlining her newly obtained position as the country’s prime 400m runner by doing enough – just – to seize her first British title.
“I saved too much for the end and didn’t go off quick enough which could’ve come back to bite me, but luckily I hung on in there,” said the Aberdonian, below.
“This season has been the season of my dreams so far. The past couple of weeks I’ve had a bit of a niggle which wasn’t the best preparation, but my racing has just been on the up since the turn of the year. I don’t really know what has changed, but something is paying off.”
Steph Twell out-sprinted Eilish McColgan to win the 5000m final while Eilidh Doyle will join them in London after claiming the UK 400m hurdles title for the fourth consecutive year. So easily that it was distracting, she acknowledged. “When I’m off, it can add a second to my time,” she confirmed. But now the Olympic bronze medallist can anticipate a competitive return to Stratford, five years on from an Olympic experience that was dissatisfying at best.
“That’s the really nice thing about it,” she confirmed. “In 2012, I let it all overwhelm me. It was really just an unenjoyable experience but it’s going to be nice to go back there with a totally different attitude.”