Hawick teenager Dylan Ali is bidding to defend his New Year sprint handicap title as the showpiece event gets under way today (Wednesday).
Twelve months on from his memorable victory at Musslburgh Racecourse, Dylan, a member of the Davie Rae/Che Campbell running stable, said: “The thrill of winning the New Year Sprint is something that is still with me as it was a magical time.
“It would be just brilliant to win it again and I’ll certainly be trying my best. My training has been mega, I’m really fit and looking forward to defending my title.”
Dylan, who competes from 5.50 metres, is one of nine Hawick runners aiming for New Year sprint success and also getting down on their marks are Dylan’s elder brother Leon Ali (11m), Gordon McPherson (13m), Jack Wilson (13m), John Paxton (17m), Drew Bryson (22.75m), Davie Rae (11.50m), Leigh Marshall (6.50m) and Lee Notman (11m).
Leon Ali told us: “It’s going to be the first time that I’ve ran in the New Year sprint and I’m feeling quite excited about it. Like my brother Dylan, I’ve been training very hard at Tweedbank as well as on the cricket pitch at Hawick. I’ve no expectations on how I’ll do and will just have to see what happens.”
An impressive winner of the Earlston Games 200m handicap during the summer, Gordon McPherson, a training companion of the Ali brothers, commented: “After having won the Earlston Games 200m I missed most of the season through injury. Since the season finished I’ve been training hard for the New Year and I’m feeling good. My target is to win my heat and then just take it from there.”
Trained by his father Gary, Jack Wilson said: “In the last New Year sprint I won my heat and then got into the final as a fastest loser from the cross-ties. I was really chuffed about this and if things go to plan I should do okay but we will just have to wait and see what happens.”
Veteran John Paxton, who won the Hawick Games 110m handicap in June, said: “I’ve been training with Jack Wilson and I’m fit and injury-free. Jack is the main man, though, and I think he’ll run well. I’ll be giving it my best shot and I’m hoping to win my heat.”
Another Hawick veteran in action is Drew Bryson who commented: “I’m 51 now and have no chance whatsoever of winning the big sprint but I love being involved in it.”
Following today’s heats, the cross-ties and the final of the sprint will be staged tomorrow (New Year’s Day).
Other events on the Musselburgh card include the youths’ 60m and 90m handicaps that feature Rae/Campbell-trained youngsters Amy Campbell, Phillipa Robertson, Nicky Sutherland, Max Hope, Charlie Rae and Liam Bouglas.
Phillipa Robertson said: “I’m excited about running at Musselburgh in the 60m and 90m. I don’t know how I’ll do but I’ll be trying hard to win.”
Summing up his hopes for the Rae/Campbell camp, Davie Rae told us: “All the hard work has been done at training for the New Year and all of the runners are fit and raring to go so here’s hoping we can get some winners.”