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Exciting day of competition in prospect at St Andrews

preview by SHANE FENTON

This Sunday's St Andrews Highland Games is once again proving to be a popular event.

Taking place at Station Park in the shadow of the imposing Old Course Hotel and only a pitch and a putt from the West Sands where the filming took place for the iconic opening scenes of the Oscar winning movie Chariots of Fire, the Games are a major attraction for competitors and spectators alike.

The 33rd renewal has attracted one of it's biggest ever entries for the track events, in the region of 45 athletes will be travelling up from the Borders for the various races, they will be joined by athletes from all over the country as well as the North of England and USA.

Both the Open & Youth 90 metres events will each be run-off in six heats, which bucks the trend of earlier in the season when numbers in the sprints appeared to be falling off. Three former New Year Sprint winners, namely Lee Marshall,Dylan Ali and Cumbie Bowers are in the 90m line up, they will be joined by recent Balloch and Burntisland winner Steven Park as well as Langholm victor Rianna Sterricks.

The middle distance races can probably boast the best quality fields this season, back marker for the 800m,1600m and 3200m will be Luke Traynor,Giffnock North. Ranked number two behind Andrew Butchart in the 10,000 metres rankings Traynor who recently graduated  from Tulsa University has aleady won at the Lorne and Loch Lomond Games this season. The day following Loch Lomond the Scottish internationalist won the Dundee Half Marathon.

He won't have it all his own way however with many of his rivals internationalists in their own right and all winners on the circuit already in 2017. After a year out through injury Scott McDonald ,Central AC  made a welcome return at the beginning of the month and has already competed consistently, racking up wins at both Alva and Burntisland.His club mate Aiden Thomson is a double winner at Markinch. Adding spice to the 400 and 800 will be the ever improving Kobe Stevens,Moorfoot who did the double at Airth last Saturday and Ewan Dyer,Pitreavie AC. Alec Corbett will be hoping his runners take a share of the prize money back over the Bridge in what should be an excellent days racing.

All the leaders in the 4 Open SHGA running leagues are all declared to run, David Allan,Balloch[90-200], Ewan Bradley,Inverness[400-800], Tyler White,Aberdeen AC [1600-3200] as well as Rebecca Burns,Edinburgh AC.[Ladies league].

The Youth events are well subscribed with good entries from the Border 'schools' of John Motion, Adie Gray and Davy Rae who will challenge the local area squads in the sprint races.

The bikers are set for a busy weekend, nine cyclists are entered for the Open races and five for the Youths'. Many of the open riders will be returning from a 450 mile round trip after competitng at Halkirk on the Saturday.

All the recent winners including Scottish champion Charles Fletcher along with Steve Jackson,Paul Gallacher and James Melville are all entered.

Despite clashing with a rival event there is sure to be a strong contingent of throwers in Station Park where they will compete over seven disciplines with a good overall prize also up for grabs. Introduced this year an extra event for the 'heavies' will be a kilted sprint..

All running ,cycling and heavy events all carry six good monetary prizes.

As ever the 'fun' overseas races will attract competitors from all over the world, these races are always very popular at St Andrews with the runners encouraged onto the track by multilingual commentator Don McGregor who finished 7th in the 1972 Munich Olympic Marathon as well as competing for Scotland at both the 1970 and 1974 Commonwealth Games at Edinburgh and Christchurch.

Hopefully the weather plays the game and the showers stay away. The action is set to get underway at 1pm.

Published: 2017-07-28 21:39:17