Cameron Tindle, a senior Year 12 pupil at Berwick Academy who runs fvor Scotland became the fourth 16-year-old to win annual New Year Sprint in the last decade.
The 2-1 odds on favourite after again impressing in winning his semi-final, Tindle (Edinburgh AC) was spurred by the presence of Borders training partner Jasmine Tomlinson up ahead of him, dived for the line and then had an agonising wait while officials scrutinised the photo finish.
“That was a shock. I really had to hunt her down,” said Galashiels-born Tindle. When the result was announced, Tindle had won in 11.97 secs, just .03 of a second clear of, not Tomlinson, who was third in 12.05, but Ryan Houten (Cardrona 11m), who was timed at 12.00.
Fourth in 12.08 secs was Stacey Downie (EAC) the evens second favourite and fastest heat winner, who was unable to reproduce her first-day form and mount a real challenge to be come the first female winner.
But it transpired she had a tight hamstring. “I felt it with 40 metres to go and it got worse the more I ran,” she said.
Tindle, who will add the £4000 first prize to his Trust Fund to set against his substantial training and competition expenses, was suitably respectful of the traditions of the 145-year-old famous professional handicap. “It’s a massive achievement to win of course,” he said, “but handicap running is a lot different from normal and I was chasing people here instead of starting level with them.”
Though he did not think Tindle ran as well in the final as he had in his two previous races – “Jasmine was getting nowhere near him in our trials” – Chirnside-born Gray described the victory as “one of the greatest days in my sporting life”, though quick to acknowledge the help he had received in preparation from his co-coach, Jedburgh’s Bruce Scott.
Gray’s New Year roots go back a long way as his father coached Brian Kelly who went on to steer another 16-year-old, Pat Swan, to the title ten years ago.
Tindle has high hopes of giving both Gray and Scott even more to be proud of and must be capable of a rapid revision of his 2013 personal best times of 6.98 secs for 60 metres indoors and 21.72 outdoors. He may even compete in a league match at the Emirates Arena on Sunday to strengthen his claims for an individual 60 metres place in the Sainsbury’s Grand Prix on 24 January.
The first two cross-ties were disappointing with Eoin Lowther (Jedburgh) taking the first in 11.95 secs from Pitreavie hurdler Ewan Dyer (11.96), with joint back-marker Morro Bajo (Edinburgh AC, 4.25m) third in 12.07 and eventually going through as a fastest loser.
Houten, who delighted his coach Charlie Russell (Innerleithen), won the second cross-tie or semi-final in 11.97 with Craig Sowerby (12.04) also through and Downie won the third in 11.97, the only qualifier.
Tindle scorched through in 11.87 in the fourth semi from Tomlinson (12.11), while Dunfermline female hope Gemma Nicol’s luck at last ran out, third in 12.22.
The stage was set for an intriguing final but, with the packed stand expectant for the scheduled 2.09 start, the runners were asked to stand down again and then went after the next horse race.
Perhaps the vital moment had gone.
�13-year-old Josh Abbott of Chirnside Chasers won the 4 furlong youths race, holding off back marker James Adam of Pitreavie.