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Neil Gourley among athletes getting set for Scottish Champs

Neil Gourley among athletes getting set for Scottish Champs

‘Feelgood factor’ said to have inspired a rise in entries for the event in Grangemouth

Neil Gourley looks to put Berlin selection disappointment behind him at the FPSG Scottish Senior Champs this weekend (August 11-12), writes Peter Jardine.

The Athletics World Cup bronze medallist will head for Grangemouth after missing out on the European Championships in Germany and is among a remarkable 409 athletes entered for the seniors event in Scotland – with the Giffnock North AC athlete favourite for the 1500m although also entered for the 800m.

A £2000 prize pot for certain standards has tempted a handful of Scotland’s best athletes and two or three will actually travel from Berlin to compete.

“I’ve never won a Scottish senior title before so I am looking to try and correct that,” said Gourley.

“I’m not sure I will be looking to do an 800m-1500m double at this stage of the season and with the Birmingham Diamond League coming up afterwards. But I am looking forward to racing again in Scotland.”

Chris Bennett and Kirsten McAslan – direct from the European Champs – as well as Grant Plenderleith, Mhairi Hendry, Rachel Hunter, Sol Sweeney, Mhairi Maclennan, Alisha Rees, Heather Paton, Jax Thoirs, Holly McArthur and Michael Olsen are also among the entries.

The 22 per cent rise in entries on last year reflects a ‘feelgood factor’ inspired by 17 Scots in the British team for the Europeans and the 409 figure is the best for many years.

Live stream footage will be provided on both days from the combined programme for seniors and under-17s by Vinco on runjumpthrow.com.

“I’m really looking forward to Grangemouth this weekend and attending the FPSG Senior and U17s Champs which in many ways is the pinnacle of our track and field season,” said Mark Munro, Scottish Athletics chief executive.

“As with recent years, the under-17s will be included in what is always a hectic and absorbing two days. It is a great opportunity for our aspiring under-17 athletes to compete alongside their senior role models.

“We are delighted that we have seen a fantastic 22 per cent increase in entries this year for the seniors, with over 400 athletes listed.

“That demonstrates great commitment by the athletes, coaches and clubs to support the event and I do feel that figure, as the best for many years, serves as a true barometer of a feelgood factor at the moment.

“In order to stimulate interest, this year we decided to put up a £2000 prize pot for athletes if they can deliver on certain performance standards.

“Our understanding is that the likes of Neil Gourley, Chris Bennett, Kirsten McAslan, Kirsty Law, Grant Plenderleith, Mhairi Hendry and Rachel Hunter may be chasing down the pot.

“The prize will be shared amongst those achieving standards – if it’s only one athlete then they take the full pot. If nobody wins, it will double for 2019!

“Regardless of how that unfolds, we appreciate the efforts of our best athletes to be in Grangemouth – with two or three others who competed last year at the seniors now having full commitments in Berlin.

“However, it is not all about the top end athletes and we are looking forward to witnessing some close battles all weekend. Bigger numbers in the seniors brings greater depth in many events.”

A timetable and results once available can be found here.

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