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SHANE FENTON reports from Memorial Park

Apart from one heavy shower midway through the afternoon conditions were bright and breezy for the 163rd celebration of the Thornton Highland Gathering in the towns Memorial Park.

The ever popular throwing events attracted a good field of seven competitors, Sinclair Patience from Tain landed a treble with wins in both the 16lb and 22lb shot putt competitions as well as the 28lb weight for distance with his throw of 86' 5'' being the second best throw in this discipline this season. The field included American Brad Goldsmith who shared first place in the weight over the bar with Kyle Randalls,Grangemouth, both throwing 14' 6''. The latter was the man in form in the hammer winning both the 16lb and 22lb competitions with throws of 131' 8'' and 114' 8'' respectively. Jamie Gunn made the long journey from the North of Scotland worthwhile by winning the Caber Tossing event.

The Open 90 metres which carried a first prize of £200 was run-off in four heats. The final produced a thrilling finish with four athletes flashing over the line in unison, after consulting the photo the decision went to Kieran Kivlin from Edinburgh who edged out Kevin Eddie,Kingseat and Martin Barr,East Kilbride in 9.47 seconds, the minor placings were filled by Geoff Keen,Selkirk,Ian Smith, Longniddrie and Lauren Thomson,Fife AC who was celebrating her 18th birthday.

Following a couple of hiccups with the starters gun as well as a false start the 200 metres eventually got away and there was no catching front marker Sam Bates,Tullibody who held on gamely to hold off Callum McWilliams,Giffnock North and Geoff Keen,Selkirk. In all the years Sam has been competing on the games circuit this was his first ever 200 metres win.

Running from the backmark in the 400 metres McWilliam turned in an impressive performance to come home ahead of Craig Robertson,Pitreavie AC and Willie Bates,Tullibody in 54.32 seconds.

Forfar veteran Craig Bell turned the clock back to  produce his best run of the season to win the 1600 metres handicap breaking the tape in 4:31.50, following him over the line were Dean Whiteford,Innerleithen,Keith Redpath,Wishaw,Willie Bates,Tullibody,Zaynah Aziz,Selkirk and Craig Robertson,Pitreavie AC.

The 800 metres was one of the races of the day with Dean Whiteford bursting clear of the 10 runner field to win in 2:05.73, a powerful late run from Callum McWilliam took him into second place with Willie Bates in third ahead of Craig Bell.

Whiteford, who is in a fine vein of form at present went on to land a double with victory in the 3200 metres, Craig Robertson finished second with Zaynah Aziz,Kelso in third.

The Youth's 90 metres produced a a Borders 1 - 2 - 3 with victory going to Aaron Russell,Leithenburn who edged home ahead of Brodie Cowan,Jedburgh and Lauren Nightingale,Leithenburn in 10.48 seconds, Erin Steel,Lothian Running Club, Sean and Steven Bates,Tullibody completed the final line-up. The same trio occupied the first three placings in the Youth's 200 metres where victory on this occasion went to Brodie Cowan who held off the challenge of Russell in 21.97 with Nightingale again third.

There was a thrilling finish to the Youth's 800 metres between games debutant Hannah Steel,Lothian Running Club and Hayley Brown,Glenrothes who runs for Fife AC, the pair were neck and neck over the entirety of the last lap, it was Steel who prevailed just getting the upper hand over the last few metres to stop the watch at 2:00.97. Steven and Sean Bates finished 3rd and 4th respectively. The finish to the Youth's 1600 metres was equally as exciting with Sean Bates overhauling long time leader Alexander McLeod, Aberdeen in the run to the line with Hayley Brown in third.

It's not very often there's more cyclists in the youth events than there is in the Open, the latter only had four owing to there also being cycling on at the Luss Games, on this day the cycling fraternity split in half to make sure they can put on a show at both venues. As in the previous few weeks it was once again Charles Fletcher, Grantown on Spey who was the man in form making a clean sweep of all four events, the 1600 metres, 3200 metres,4800 metres and Deil Tak the Hindmost, on each occasion Paul Gallacher,Kirkcaldy followed him over the line, Ian Hepburn,Cairneyhill and David Horden,Falkirk took the respective third places.

Four young riders from Aberdeen helped make up the field of six for the youth races and it was one of them, Alexander McLeod who won the 800 metres from Marco Caira,Markinch and Chris Horden,Falkirk. There was a good finish to the 1600 metres with this time Horden getting his wheels over the line ahead of Caira who was again runner up with McLeod in third.

Published: 2016-07-02 21:13:47