Survival of the fittest as Guy Learmonth strikes gold in Glasgow

Guy Learmonth’s instincts for survival delivered him a third British indoor title in Glasgow last night and provided a morsel of comfort for the 27-year-old following 12 months in which little has gone to plan for the Borderer. Salmonella. A self-inflicted broken hand. Torn stomach muscles. Every calamity under the sun...

Gold medallist Guy Learmonth with Andrew Osagie (silver), left, and Piers Copeland (bronze). Picture: PA.
Gold medallist Guy Learmonth with Andrew Osagie (silver), left, and Piers Copeland (bronze). Picture: PA.

On the same bend of the Emirates Arena track where his European Indoor Championship hopes perished 11 months ago, he was so nearly sent flying once more when Alex Botterill plunged into his path. A nifty hurdle provided his escape route. Onward, he scampered to win the 800 metres in a personal best of 1:46.89.

The real prize, Learmonth knows, comes from becoming the UK’s champion outdoors in Manchester in June. The gateway to Tokyo. A proper reward.

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“Nine times out of ten I perform at the trials whereas other guys crack and crumble but I’ve got to focus on that,” he said.

“I’m just taking one race at a time but it’s in the back of my mind because of course I want to be on that plane to Tokyo and I want to be in the final. The 800m is a tough event so I’ve got to be in one piece, keep training hard and keep my head down. It’s Manchester 2020 in my head, not Tokyo 2020 yet.”

Philippa Millage’s targets are more modest but her glass ceiling is willingly punched. At the age of 39, she earned bronze in the women’s 800m.

A late starter, the Glaswegian has no desire to finish her climb. Twenty-two years separated her in age from the race winner Keely 
Hodgkinson.

Having set her first British masters record in Saturday’s heats, Millage is defying expectations with absolute relish. “I’m just going to keep proving people wrong,” she said. “You’d not believe how many people keep bringing up my age. They tell me I’ll not get any quicker now. But I like to prove them wrong. It’s one hundred per cent a part of my motivation.

“I’m lucky in that I’ve a coach who is very supportive and says age is just a number. He’s the one who’s got me here. Sometimes I feel a bit of an imposter but I feel like I deserve to be here now.”

Tom Bosworth, pictured, laid down the gauntlet to his Olympic rivals by demolishing his British record in the 5,000m race walk with the 30-year-old marching to the title in 18:20.97. There was silver for David Smith in the high jump with the Scot trailing Tom Gale while Jenny Selman finished behind Holly Archer in earning an unexpected 1,500m silver.

“It’s my first senior GB 
championship medal and I’m really pleased with that,” Selman said.

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Nikki Manson cleared 1.84m to come third in the women’s high jump behind Beth Partridge while Scottish decathlete Andrew Murphy capped a weekend of progress with pole-vault bronze.

Over two days, he set two personal bests apiece in the shot put and 60m hurdles before leaping 5m for another PB at the last.