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Sparks 'flies' at sizzling Ceres writes Shane Fenton

With the Bow Butts bathed in glorious sunshine the Ceres Highland Games attracted it's biggest crowd for a number of years. They were treated to an afternoon of action packed entertainment, ground records were broken in the heavy events, there was a record entry of 110 highland dancers while on the track there was trebles for athlete Robert Sparks and cyclist Paul Gallacher.

Adding a touch of celebrity status to the event was Gordon Ramsay who was joined by chef Gino D'Campo and First Dates Fred Siriex who were being filmed for new ITV production The Ultimate Challenge. The trio took part in all the Heavy Events alongside the regular games competitors.

Sparks from St Andrews who was making his games debut showed excellent form to win the Open 800 metres,1600 metres and 3000 metres handicaps.In all three races he started from the backmark.

In the 800, along with fellow backmarker Ewan Bradley,Inverness they had to work hard to reel in the frontmarkers Lauren Corbett,Hawick and Craig Bell, Forfar, in the home straight it was Sparks who hit the front to come home ahead of Bradley and Bell in 2:03.16.

 The 1600 metres saw veteran John Thomsom,Glenrothes lead for much of the race before being hauled in by Sparks and Rory Anderson,Hawick, again it was Sparks who found the extra gear in the closing stages to take the win with Anderson runner up and Thomson in third.

The 3000 metres saw Sparks penalised 80 metres for his previous wins and placed on the scratch mark. Again the race developed into a duel between the Fife AC runner and Rory Anderson, the latter made a bid for glory down the back straight on the final lap, the move was covered by Sparks who raced to the front off the final bend to go on and land his treble to the applause of the big crowd.

One of the best performances of the day came from Open 90 metres handicap winner Praise Olatoake,Kilbarchan AC.Running from the virtual backmark of 4 metres he powered to victory in his heat in 9.87 seconds, he bettered that by 2 hundredths in the final breaking the tape in 9.85 seconds as he got up close home to pip Josh Abbott,Kelso and Terry Marshall TLJT who filled the minor berths.

The Open 200 metres handicap went the way of the veterans with Colin Christie,Livingston and Tam Bradley,Edinburgh fighting out the finish , it was the former who prevailed by a metre with Geoff Keen,Selkirk back in third.

As he has done for most of the season Gaspard Lecrivain,Aberdeen AC dominated the Youth races with two wins and a second place.In the 90 metres he broke the tape in 10.21 seconds as he edged out American Flynn Williams and Archie Suttie,Anstruther.In the 800 metres and running from a reduced handicap Lecrivain again proved too strong for his rivals as he raced home ahead of Robbie Welsh,Hawick and Anna Suttie,Anstruther.The Frenchman was thwarted of the treble when he just failed to catch Rhys Nuttall,Anstruther in the final of the 200 metres with Robbie Welsh in third.

With the track firm and riding fast the cyclists thrilled the crowds as they sped around the tight 200 metres circuit. The main event for the riders was the SHGA Scottish 1600 metres Championship which saw Charles Fletcher,Grantown on Spey retain his title after getting the better of Paul Gallacher,Kirkcaldy on the last lap, third place went to Stevie Jackson,Glasgow. The rest of the day belonged to Gallacher with the Lang Toun rider landing a treble with wins in the 800 metres and 3000 metres handicaps as well as the Deil tak the Hindmost.

In the heavy events there was ground records in the 56lb weight for distance and Ceres Stane for Sinclair Patience. Lukasz Wenta won the shot putt with a throw of 53' 1''. Full heavy event results to follow.

Published: 2018-06-30 22:06:22