Family and friends have paid tribute to a promising young sprinter who died in a road accident at the weekend.
Leon Ali, 24, of Laing Terrace, died after his car collided with a van near Knowesouth Steading on the A698 Jedburgh-to-Denholm road on Saturday night.
A former Hawick High School and Borders College student, Ali was well known as an athlete in the Borders.
He enjoyed success on both the Borders and Scottish athletics circuits, often competing alongside his younger brother Dylan.
In a statement issued through Police Scotland, Mr Ali’s family said: “Leon Braedyn Ali tragically passed away when he was returning from his work on Saturday November 19.
“Leon was a keen runner and was in training for the New Year’s Sprint at Musselburgh Race Course.
“Leon leaves a loving partner Kerry, loving mother Angela, two proud brothers Dylan and Ryan, and also not forgetting his two hairy bairns Theo and Kitty.”
His athletics coach Che Campbell took to social media yesterday to pay tribute to Leon and said: “You were a hero, mate, and the world is a worse place without you.
“I’m gonna miss you. Rest in peace.”
Leon finished third in the Jedforest Sprint earlier this year, as well as coming runner-up to his brother in the Selkirk Games’ 110-metre final in a memorable double victory for their family.
Friends of Hawick Sprint Club member Leon have been telling of their shock and sorrow over his death on Facebook.
One, Lorna Jeffrey, said: “Such a sad, sad day hearing of the loss of Leon, one of the most kind and lovely guys I have known from a wee baby to being a work colleague and friend. It’s absolutely heartbreaking. You will be sorely missed by many. My heart goes out to Angela and his family at this sad time.”
Shaun Graham wrote: “Not something you ever want to read on Facebook is an old friend from school passing away. Rest in peace, Leon, such a down-to-earth guy. You will be missed.”
Sarah Shaw Paterson posted: “My kids run at the Border games and looked up to, thought highly of, and respected both Leon and Dylan. Such sad news. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends at this very sad time.”
Sharon Butler wrote: “Leon, you were in our store for a few months but we all loved you as part of Sainsburys family. You were such a lovely, fun guy. Will miss your smile, laugh and banter. So sad and shocked at this devastating news. Our thoughts are with your family at this very sad time. RIP. Sadly missed by all.”
A spokesman for the City of Edinburgh Running Club added: “Today, we have had to cope with the heartbreaking news that our friend and fellow running competitor Leon Ali has been killed in a car crash.
“Our heartfelt sympathies go out to his family and friends at this devastating time. He will be hugely missed by us all.”
Leon’s silver Ford Focus collided with a black Renault Trafic van near Knowesouth Steading at 9.20pm, and the A698 was closed for around seven hours while investigations were carried out by police.
Leon sustained fatal injuries as a result of the collision and sadly died at the scene.
A 46-year-old man and nine-year-old girl, who were within the van, sustained minor injuries. They were taken to Borders General Hospital by the Scottish Ambulance Service for treatment and later released.
Enquiries into the full circumstances are ongoing and report will be sent to the Procurator Fiscal.
Officers are urging anyone with information regarding the incident to come forward and contact police.
Sergeant Andy Gibb of the Road Policing Unit based in Dalkeith said: “Sadly, this collision has resulted in a young man losing his life, and we would like to ascertain the full circumstances of the collision.
“This is a tragic incident and our thoughts are with Leon’s family.
“We are still investigating this collision and wish to speak to anyone who may have information.
“I would urge anyone who may be able to help our enquiries to come forward and contact us as soon as possible.”
Anyone with information can contact Police Scotland on 101 or anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.