Decent Dozen for FVO at Scottish Sprints

by Steven Scott — 21st March 2022.

Chris in action in Denmark Chris in action in Denmark

The FVO medalwagon is permanently broken after today's outstanding effort at the Scottish Sprint Championships on Dundee's Balgray Hill. We picked up a remarkable 25 national championship medals, including no fewer than TWELVE championship titles! Callow youths, grizzled veterans, first-time champions and perennial medal-seekers; we had them all on the podiums.

FVO has both mens and womens Scottish Sprint champions following the event. Kris Jones, remarkably, has never raced the Scottish Sprints before, but made amends today by lifting his first M21 title in 12.29, with a 30 second lead over the chasing pack. Grace Molloy nabbed the womens trophy as the top-placed Scot in a field loaded with GB athletes.

In the junior classes, there was championship Gold for Sam Hunt (M16 - 9.27), Eilidh Connor (W12 - 5.34) and Hannah Inman (W10 - 9.50) as all three won their first national Sprint titles. James Hammond ran up a class, and was 7th equal (14.44), winning the M18 crown to add to his previous successes in the younger age groups.

Amongst the Veterans, there were wins for Rachel Kirkland (W50 - 17.48), Vicky Thornton (W60 - 15.45) and a fifth Sprint title for Hazel Dean in W55 (13.59). The Veteran Men are notoriously successful at this level, and blocked out the top three places in the Vets course, annexing gold for Will Hensman (M40 - 14.24), Roger Goddard (M45 - 16.08) and Jason Inman (M50 - 15.40), their sixth, fifth and fourth Sprint crowns respectively.

There was a full handful of Silver medals, going to Simon Finch (M40 - 22.16), Heather Fellbaum (W50 - 18.,30), Fiona Hendrie (W60 - 17.07), Matthew Inman (M14 - 17.07) and Scarlett Kelly (W14 - 12.37), and eight Bronze, to Chris Smithard (M21 - 13.33), Paul Hammond (M45 - 17.29), Mark Wood (M50 - 18.04), Cathy Tilbrook (W55 - 15.18), Rebecca Hammond (W14 - 14.34), Dave Coustick (M75 - 18.04), Robert Neil (M65 - 15.49) and Alexander Hunt (M14 - 19.50), in Robert and Alexander's case, their first-ever national championship success.

The championships formed the second day of the 2022 Sprint Scotland festival, and Chris Smithard had a dramatic photo-finish victory in the Knock-out Sprint final on the opening day. The GB team was in town for the first of the international trial races of the season, and Chris came through qualifying in third place overall (11.45) as Kris Jones headed the field in 11.21, for both to take a place in the top-ranked quarter final race.

There was chaos in the opening race of the knockout stage, as the controls hadn't been wakened, and it was decided to suspend relegation for this round, with all athletes remaining in their original pots for the semi-final. This was very much to Chris' advantage, as he finished 6th in the running of the race, in a blanket finish. Kris won the voided quarter-final in 6.02, and doubled up with another win in the semi, in 6.17, but Chris was right on his tail this time, just one second back in 2nd place.

The athletes formed up for the final, which was watched by newly appointed GB Performance Director Bernie Dietzieg, and in a race of inches on each leg, five of the six finalists posted a quickest leg time in the race. Chris and Jonny Crickmore settled on the front of the pack, and Chris had a two second winning margin coming off the last control, only for Jonny to post a quick split in the finish tunnel. The pair were timed in together at 6.03, and only by going to the finish line camera was Chris proclaimed the winner.

Grace Molloy made it through to the Womens A final despite competing with a heavy cold, and will be reasonably pleased with her 4th place overall (7.20 for the final) given the circumstances.

There was a strong undercard of races in the Scottish Urban League, with FVO athletes prominent across the classes. Rachel Kirkland won the Veteran Womens races in a combined time of 34.08 for the two rounds, and Eilidh Connor headed all competitors in the Young Junior class, in 15.41. There were 2nd place finishes for Mark Wood in Veteran Mens (33.57), Cathy Tilbrook in SuperVet Women (33.31) and Sam Hunt in Junior Men (22.27), while Ben Stansfield (Veteran Men - 35.16), Josie Stansfield (Veteran Women - 42.54) and Rebecca Hammond (Junior Women - 27.08) were all 3rd in their class.

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