The 2016 SDS National Senior Athletics Championships were held on Wednesday 14 September at Grangemouth Athletics Stadium in partnership with scottishathletics. With news of Scottish success winging its way from Rio and providing inspiration to the 250 plus athletes from branches around Scotland the action got underway with the 1500m. SDS Academy athlete Owen Miller finished just outside the Championship Record he claimed at last year’s event to claim gold from his talented stable-mate Sam Fernando. West of Scotland’s T20 athlete Margaret Newell secured the female title to add alongside her 800m and Long Jump titles she garnered later in the day. Dumfries and Galloway’s T54 athlete Sean Frame eased home as fastest wheelchair athlete before completing a clean sweep of titles ahead of fellow Red Star athlete’s Kyle Brotherton and Luke Deighan.
There was an intriguing contest in the female wheelchair sections where Fife’s inexperienced Susanne McGrath faced up against the youthful exuberance of Tayside’s Murran McKay. The younger athlete won the tight contests this year but as both athletes gain more experience expect these battles to continue again next year.
Jennifer Power from West of Scotland proved to be invincible on the track with three golds in the 100, 200m and relay.
Local athlete George Le Hardy won two impressive golds in the 200m and 400m events finishing in front of West of Scotland’s Robert Ferrol in the former and Forth Valley’s Steven Stone in the latter. In the thrilling 4 x 400m event that culminated the track events – which saw Owen Miller chasing down West of Scotland’s Alexander Thomson in the last leg to win for Fife – Le Hardy, who anchored the, Forth Valley team to third place, ran the fastest lap of the race in 54.05.
Following last year’s long list of Championship Records tumbling, 2016 proved a relatively fallow Championships with just two records falling. Michael Mellon (Fife) bettered his own javelin record by 53cm and Dumfries & Galloway’s Lee Lower did likewise by adding 2cm to his existing seated javelin throw record.
The leading team at this event win the prestigious AR Mitchell trophy named after the late former chair of the precursor to Scottish Disability Sport – the Scottish Sports Association for the Disabled (SSAD). The two super powers of West of Scotland and Fife tend to contest this trophy each year and this year proved no different, with a notable mention to the efforts of Forth Valley who finished in third place on their home patch. Fife’s strength in depth proved to be the difference this year as they retained the trophy they won last year in Perth. Hopefully this serves to inspire other areas in Scotland to identify athletes to bolster their teams with a view to wresting the title from the Kingdom’s grasp.
The event missed the considerable input of the ubiquitous Shona Malcolm OBE and Janice Eaglesham MBE who were both out in Rio supporting the athletes they had worked so hard with. Replacing these lynchpins of the Senior Championships is next to impossible so thanks must go to Claire Archbold and Alisdhair Love from scottishathletics who so ably assisted throughout. We are extremely grateful to the efforts of the sizeable volunteer group from scottishathletics without which, would make this event impossible.