Harkins urges Scottish athletes to seize a moment of opportunity in Sheffield

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Coaching director Rodger Harkins has urged Scottish athletes to seize a moment of opportunity in Sheffield this weekend.

The British Indoor Champs take place on Saturday and Sunday with a number of Scots looking to try and claim slots for next month’s Euro Indoors in Prague, snatch a medal or reach a final.

It has been a happy hunting ground over the past two years  with the nine medals secured in 2013 the best since 1995. Last year, eight Scots made the podium with Laura Muir picking up gold in the 800m.

The GB international is in fact bidding for a hat-trick of British Indoor titles this weekend as she looks to repeat her 2013 success in the 1500m after already making the Euro standard in both that event and the 3000m.

With the likes of Eilidh Child, Lynsey Sharp and Chris O’Hare absent this weekend, scottishathletics Director of Coaching Harkins is hoping Muir and others can step-up to the plate.

High jumpers Allan Smith, David Smith and Ray Bobrownicki certainly look like medal contenders while others with chances, on current form, could be Kirsty Yates, Guy Learmonth, Josephine Moultrie, Sarah Warnock, Jamie Bowie, Courtney MacGuire, Chukwudi Onyia and Kirsten McAslan.

Allan Smith and David Smith each set a Scottish Native record when clearing 2.25m in Glasgow recently to lead the British rankings.

‘I am sure a number of Scottish athletes will be looking forward to this weekend as an important stage in their indoor seasons,’ said Harkins.

‘It is another good opportunity for some of those who are our best athletes, and others who are aspiring to that level, to measure themselves in British competition.

‘In some events, they will be trying to progress through rounds and compete over two days and that’s another aspect of it – especially for our younger ones who can pick up that championship experience element.

‘I think the men’s high jump competition at the Scottish Senior Indoors was an excellent competition and those three guys would love to take that form into Sheffield and carry it on. Allan, David and Ray will have been pleased with their clearances that day while knowing as well that there may be even more to come from them.

‘So I think that could be one event well worth looking at from a Scottish perspective and of course we wish all athletes and coaches all the very best for the weekend across all the events.

‘It is always an event which acts as a nice marker for athletes on how winter training and indoor performances have gone and can be an indication for what’s up ahead during the 2015 track and field season.’

While all roads lead to Sheffield for many of Britain’s best, the Emirates Arena is the place to be on Saturday and Sunday for Scotland’s teenage wannabes.

The scottishathletics Age Group Champs have attracted double the entry number from three years ago prior to the London 2012 Olympics (when the event was held for the last time in Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall) in another sign that there is a legacy effect taking place – with recent sportscotland figures revealing membership rise across a number of sports.


‘I want to take this opportunity to recognise those that are enabling this tremendous growth,’ said chief executive Nigel Holl, with 1097 athletes entered as compared to 557 in 2012.

‘First of all, it’s down to athletics clubs in Scotland (there are around 150) and their hard-working coaches. They have prepared for and coped with the catalytic impact of both the 2012 Olympics and the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

‘The clubs and coaches have welcomed new young athletes in . . . nurtured them, motivated them and inspired them. They do it in their spare time as dedicated volunteers and these numbers demonstrate what a cracking job they are doing the length and breadth of Scotland.

‘Secondly, people don’t come back if they don’t enjoy the experience, so enormous credit must go to our officials and competition organisers.

‘We are fortunate to have an excellent competition venue at the Emirates Arena for indoor athletics; but the environment is made by the people on the day. I salute our officials who week in, week out spend long days giving athletes of all ages the competitive opportunities. Again, these people are volunteers and they are the very fabric of the sport.’

*Age Group Champs are at the Emirates Arena, Glasgow, from 10am on Saturday and Sunday – adults £3, U16s free. More at www.scottishathletics.org.uk