by Sandy Sutherland
When the excellent Inverness thrower George Evans (pictured, by Bobby Gavin) defends his shot and discus titles, now in the colours of Strathallan School, at the Scottish Schools Championships at Grangemouth Stadium on June 10 and 11 he will also be a firm favourite to retain the AH Dalrymple Trophy which is presented to the outstanding male thrower at the meeting.
If he does win on what will be the 51st awarding of a trophy gifted in memory of a former Golspie High School PE teacher and throws coach, he will be maintaining a remarkable tradition, continuing in a notable line of North of Scotland holders, many of whom have gone on to further success as senior athletes.
George Patience (Fortrose Academy) who threw the discus for Scotland in the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, was the first to carry the trophy back across the Highland line in 1974 and shot-putter Peter Venters took it back to Golspie the following year.
It was back in Golspie a decade later when hammer-thrower Russell Devine won it in 1985 and 1986 en route to a Commonwealth Games place in Victoria, Canada in 1994.
Eight years later it was back in the North for seven more mighty years, the amazing Graeme Allan (Milne's High, Fochabers) almost getting it to keep with four wins from 1994 to 97, then Adam Major (Elgin Academy) winning in in 1998 and 2000, split by Scot Thompson (Nairn Academy) who later became a mainstay of many Scottish teams at both shot and discus.
When the former Culloden Academy pupil Evans, who went to Strathallan on a scholarship) set new figures for the senior (17-19) boys shot and discus last year it was the prelude to an even greater achievement when he travelled with the Great Britain team to Columbia to capture a discus bronze medal at the World Youth Championships with a fine throw of 60.22 metres and later added a silver for Scotland at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa in September with a throw of 58.19.
AH Dalrymple Trophy for the best thrower (male) at the SSAA Champs - given in memory of my coach Alex Dalrymple, the former Golspie PE teacher and Glenmore Lodge Warden who died at the age of 39 in 1962! His daughter Liz now married to Brian Prosser, teaches at Meldrum Academy!
The following is a list of the winners of the above trophy, as inscribed on the plinth, since it was first presented in June 1966:
1966 Colin Harris (Daniel Stewart's Coll)
1967 William Dale (Dunfermline HS)
1968 Harry Burnett (Geo Heriot's S)
1969 Tom Campbell (Bellahouston Acad)
1970 Tom Campbell ( .. ..)
1971 Colin Watson (Victoria Drive Sec)
1972 James Hogg (Stranraer Acad)
1973 James Hogg ( .. .. )
1974 George Patience (Fortrose Acad)
1975 Peter Venters (Golspie HS)
1976 Nick Fecitt (Rannoch S)
1977 Alan Robinson (Edinburgh Acad)
1978 Paul Mardle (Arbroath HS)
1979 Paul Mardle ( .. .. )
1980 Ronald Todd (Dollar Acad)
1981 Douglas Sutherland (Queen Victoria S, Dunblane)
1982 David Mitchell (Buckhaven HS)
1983 Andrew Norris (Eastwood HS)
1984 Fraser Norris (Eastwood HS)
1985 Russell Devine (Golspie HS)
1986 Russell Devine ( .. .. )
1987 David N Allan (Merchiston Castle S)
1988 Peter Nicolson (Balwearie HS)
1989 Neil Mason (Bell Baxter HS)
1990 Robert Mackinnon (Queen Victoria S)
1991 Bruce Robb (Queen Anne HS, Dunf)
1992 Robert Mackinnon (Queen Victoria S)
1993 Bruce Robb (Queen Anne HS)
1994 Graeme Allan (Milne's HS, Fochabers)
1995 Graeme Allan ( .. .. )
1996 Graeme Allan ( .. .. )
1997 Graeme Allan ( .. .. )
1998 Adam Major (Elgin Acad)
1999 Scot Thompson (Nairn Acad)
2000 Adam Major (Elgin Acad)
2001 Garry Hagan (St Andrew's HS, Coatbridge)
2002 Stewart Turner (Craigmount HS, Edinburgh)
2003 Allan Mackay (St Aloysius Coll, Glasgow)
2004 Allan Mackay ( .. .. ..)
2005 Ryan Stewart (Alloa Acad)
2006 Ryan Stewart ( .. ..)
2007 Daniel Carlin (St Luke's HS, Barrhead)
2008 Daniel Carlin ( .. .. )
2009 Kyle Randalls (Grangemouth HS)
2010 Will Lerche (Merchiston Castle S)
2011 Ciaran Wright (St Mungo's HS, Falkirk)
2012 Benjamin Main (Greenfaulds HS, Cumbernauld)
2013 Ciaran Wright (St Mungo's HS)
2014 Ciaran Wright ( .. .. .. )
2015 George Evans (Strathallan S) (formerly at Culloden Acad).
Lennie Waite, Britain's top steeplechaser, has not been selected for the World Championships. This is her telling of the process, first printed on www.lenniewaite.com
On Monday evening, I received the news that I was not selected for the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing. After the team announcement on Tuesday, I started my appeal process. I requested the meeting notes from my selection meeting and I started reading through the British appeals process. British Athletics does not make it easy to appeal—you can’t argue unfair treatment or biases opinion. You have to let the selection committee serve as ‘experts’ and are forced to agree that their opinion is the only opinion. You can appeal on one of two grounds: (1) there has been a failure to follow the applicable selection policy and (2) that the selection panel reached a decision on the basis of an error of fact. There is also a line beneath this that states:
In reaching their decision the selection panel are acting as experts and athletes agree that in so doing the panel exercises judgment and discretion which are not in themselves capable of challenge.
I sent the appeals process document to my lawyer friend, and talked with him regarding my meeting notes. He was great and immediately spotted an error in my meeting notes. I wish I could post my meeting notes to show you the whole process, but you’ll have to settle for a discussion of what occurred because of confidentiality. I noted some statistics in my meeting notes that were errors and filed my appeal based on this. I’ve taken out the meeting note quotes, but you can see part of my appeal below.
First, my personal best is 9:40, putting me 13 seconds outside of the top 8 average. Second, 8th place at the 2013 World Championships was 9:34, which is only 6 seconds outside of my personal best. Third, the 2009 statistic is an outlier in the top 8 average and skews the average top 8 finishing time. The time to make top 8 in the women’s steeplechase final has consistently been 9:32-9:35, with 2009 being an outlier in performances at a World Champs (2007: 9:35, 2009: 9:14, 2011: 9:32, 2013: 9:34). Six seconds outside of a top 8 finish is significantly more achievable than 20 seconds. I feel that the wording of the meeting notes incorrectly highlighted a 20 second gap between my current form and the opportunity for me to finish in the top 8.
Forming the impression that I am 20 seconds outside of top 8 finish minimized the impact of the positivity in some of the meeting comments. If I am capable of running a PB and performing well in the heat, then running 6 seconds faster than 9:40 is realistic, and was supported by members in the committee meeting. It is undeniable that I am on an upward curve with top 8 potential.
The 20-second comment is an error and not applicable to the selection process. However, it made an impressionable impact on members of the selection committee, leading them to conclude that I do not demonstrate realistic top 8 potential this year.
I included other information regarding policy inconsistencies. Several athletes—I think at least 7—were selected with one qualifying time. Also, these athletes are outside of a top 8 ranking based on previous results. However, for some reason, these athletes were selected, whereas I am left at home.
I concluded my appeal with,
Overall, with my coaching change and significant improvements in my racing and training, Beijing would serve as a springboard for me to lower my current world ranking and potentially reach the highest finish of any female British steeplechaser to date. The endurance director believes in my ability to qualify for Rio, and I need the experience on the world stage. In the past 2 months I have achieved new personal bests over both 3000m SC and 1500m. The training has been solely targeted at being in the best form possible at the World Championships. Were it not for an off performance of .3% off of the 9:44 QT (when I ran 9:45) I could have avoided this appeal process.
I submitted this appeal late on Tuesday, and then I waited. This morning, I got a call from the director of appeals informing me of the ‘uncertain’ outcome of my appeal. Essentially, the appeals panel agreed with the basis of my appeal. My outcome at the selection meeting was based on faulty statistics, and the selection committee needed to reconvene and use the correct statistics in determining my fate.
When I got this call, I was optimistic. I felt like my appeal showed that I deserved selection and that the panel would see this when they looked at the right numbers. However, after speaking with the endurance director prior to the second selection meeting, I was again disheartened. Basically, because of the quote that the selection panel members are considered ‘experts’, they have the right to believe whatever suits them best. Why would they suddenly admit they were wrong? It is hard to change someone’s mind, and going back on the original decision would look like they were admitting fault, and that they did indeed use incorrect statistics. Sure enough, I got a call about an hour ago stating that the panel met again, and they still voted ‘NO.’
So, now I am left with no transcript of the meeting notes. For all I know, a group of people walked into a dark, smoke filled room and pulled a ‘NO’ out of a hat. Considering the mistake that I spotted in the statistics, combined with the inconsistencies in team selection, I can’t help but sit here and feel that the British Athletics process is unfair to its athletes. It is time to reassess the qualities of the authorities, to raise awareness to sponsors of the process they are supporting, and to demand change and transparency.
There will be no British steeplechasers at the World Championships. I will not get to serve as an inspiration for the next generation of athletes. I will sit at home and watch people who I beat consistently this season line up on the world’s biggest stage for athletics. I won’t get to toe the line, and I will never understand how this decision was reached other than the fact that ‘experts’ felt it was best that I not race.
I hope in sharing this story I can prevent other athletes from enduring this same nightmare. I hope I can instigate change. I hope I can raise questions and suspicions. I hope I can help the next steeplechaser line up at the World Champs.
Following on from the hype the SATS Challenge rankings brought in 2014 and the fact that Pitreavie topped two of the rankings, the club decided to incorporate the new SATS Performance tables into their Club Champs scoring format for this year. Previously the Five Star scoring system was used.
Athletes were invited to enter five events over two days, with the younger athletes selecting two track, a jump, a throw and one other event of their choice. This was to encourage athletes to participate in all the disciplines.
A lot of work went into hooking up the performance calculator to a recording system, which automatically calculated and tallied the points based on athlete performance in each event. The main contributor to this was Norma Bruce, who is better known in an officiating capacity. Campbell McNair, a parent of an athlete in the club was also involved and with their combined efforts the recording of the results and allocation of the points was really efficient on the day.
The club is very grateful to Arnold Black for allowing it to use the performance calculator and assisting a new initiative with the club.
All in all it was a fantastic event with some great performances;the Club saw Anna Gordon equal the Scottish Indoor U20 Pole Vault Record of 3.90m and Iona Crawford was the first to win the Sean McQueen Memorial Salver. This salver will be presented each year to the best 300 or 400m performance across all the age groups.
In addition to the great performances the Pitreavie AAC Club Champs (which was sponsored by local company Cooper Software) displayed a fantastic amount of initiative, teamwork and volunteering which they hope to build on this year. If any other club is interested in the scoring system then please let us know.
Thanks to Nicola Moriarty for this item.
Pictured: All the age-group winners, and Iona Crawford with the Sean McQueen Memorial Salver
My journey to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games started in about 2006 when I started writing down every single training session with a "Glasgow 2014 Back the Bid" pen. Maybe I haven't done enough training because it's only been running out of ink since April!! In the years between 2006 and 2014 I always believed I could make it, even though there were some pretty tough times in that period. And when I believe I can do something I have to go out and do it just to prove to myself that I can. So New Year was a scary one- 2014 had arrived and I had the grand total of 0 out of 2 required qualifying marks for the Commonwealth Games.
After qualifying in America and Loughborough, I had a great preparation for Glasgow at home in Gullane until the 28th July. For me the home advantage was all about staying at home until just a few days before I competed so that I could stick to my normal routine, and see my coach Stuart Hogg as much as possible.
One of the things that was special about the home Games was how many familiar faces there were amongst the volunteers, from the warm up area to the call rooms and out on the track- it was one of those little things that made you feel a wee bit more relaxed. Just before my heat I saw Janice Hendry who was a team manager for lot of British schools trips- I think giving her a hug after my heat was one of the most emotional moments of the whole experience. My coach told me I had to acknowledge the crowd which I never normally do and even though I thought I was going to cry when I heard the roar I managed it (phew!!). It was so much louder than it seemed the day before in the stands, and the cheer for us Scots was SO much better than everyone else's! Lots of people have asked me how nervous I was for my races but in my limited experience I seem to feel less nervous at championships than I do at other competitions. When I get out onto the track I just think to myself "this is exactly what I have trained for and this is what I love doing". I had nothing to lose and everything to gain- sometimes logic is all you need to stay calm! After my heat there was THAT interview which, particular thanks to Chris Bennett and Derek Hawkins, I will never live down. 3 words- school sports day!
After a warm down, chat with my coach Stuart Hogg, some food and sleep it was the day of the semi finals. On the day of an evening race I just chill out, read my book (currently "If this is a man" by Primo Levi), sleep and eat. I really believed I had a chance of getting to the final. I was in Lane 1 which is always a bit tricky because the of runners coming across from the outside and looking back on the race I could have gone out a little bit harder to avoid getting stuck in the pack. But that's a big part of my experience- learning about how to handle the village, the dining hall, the warm up area, the call rooms and finally and most importantly, championship racing. Now more than ever before I am driven by the quote that I saw after the World Juniors in 2012- "be proud of your progress but never satisfied".
Glasgow 2014 absolutely confirms that these competitions are what I live for. The atmosphere and the occasion is everything you dream of it being. It is totally incomparable to any other races. But when it's over you suddenly feel a bit empty. You yoyo between being proud to have gone out there and done your best and gutted that you didn't achieve just a wee bit more. My next focus is the Scottish Championships in a couple of weeks and then the start of the next stage of my life in Dundee.
Sometimes people outside of athletics forget how big a part coaches play not just in our athletics but in our lives. My experience in Glasgow reminded me how fantastic my coach Stuart Hogg is. We get on so well and it's great to be able to have a bit of banter in the warm up area when things can get a little tense! From his technical expertise to his knowledge of the effect of emotions on performance his attention to detail is second to none. He has coached people right to the very top level in sport in several different events and that experience means that he knows how to prepare his athletes both mentally and physically. He is a true legend of our sport and I am so very grateful to have his support and expertise, both as a coach, mentor and friend.
Emily Dudgeon qualified for the semi-finals of the 800 metres at the Commonwealth Games. She finished 4th in her semi final, just missing out on reaching the final when Lynsey Sharp and Jenny Meadows took the fastest loser positions from the other semi final. She is moving from Cambridge University to Dundee to continue her medical studies and her athletics career.
The 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow marks the return of big time athletics to Hampden Park – for many years the largest football stadium in the world. As Scotland’s national football stadium, Hampden has played host to huge spectacle over more than a century but while football has dominated its role, many of the UK’s – and the world’s – best athletes competed in track and field in the stadium, through to the 1950s. This is their story.
Sarah Benson's dreams may have been shattered by missing out on Commonwealth Games selection, but it is a learning experience. She's putting it behind her and focussing on the future. This is her blog.