Scotland to contest Manchester International

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Scotland’s track and field athletes are being handed another international opportunity this summer – before the countdown to the next Commonwealth Games begins in earnest.

Event winners at the Scottish Senior Champs in Grangemouth in August will be given the chance to compete at the Manchester International match three days later – in a fixture that will also feature England and Wales.

The Gold Coast 2018 action happens two years from this week and scottishathletics recently launched their selection policy for Australia. Qualifying standards can be achieved from the start of 2017, so this year’s pilot Manchester International is added to the early-season traditional Loughborough International as part of the learning curve.

‘We look forward to taking a Scotland team south in August for the Manchester International match,’ said Rodger Harkins, Director of Coaching with scottishathletics.

‘It is another opportunity for athletes to compete at international level and it comes at a stage of the track and field season when athletics and coaches should be targeting best performances.

‘Of course, Scotland selection is linked to performance at the Scottish Seniors at Grangemouth the weekend before. Event winners will be picked for Manchester and hopefully that gives an added incentive for our best athletes to compete in the Scottish Seniors (if available) in order to earn that representative honour.’

The match fits with the Scottish governing body’s desire to create more international opportunities at the right level – with 2016 already having seen a cross country success in the 4 x 1K International Relay at the Great Edinburgh XC event and a 3K road win for Scotland’s women at the Armagh International Road Race event.

Event winners at Grangemouth on August 13/14 will be asked to represent Scotland in Manchester on Wednesday 17 August in what is essentially a pilot. Moves are already afoot to secure a weekend date for the event come 2017, when it is hoped it will become further established in the athletics calendar in Britain.

Champions from the Scottish Seniors in Aberdeen last summer included the likes of GB international Andrew Butchart and Glasgow 2014 Team Scotland athletes Sarah Warnock, Jake Wightman, David Smith, Kirsty Law, Zoey Clark, Angus McInroy, Grant Plenderleith and Greg Louden.

GB international Maddie Murray won the 1500m last year and a repeat at Grangemouth would give the Australian-born Edinburgh AC athlete the chance to represent Scotland on the track, after previous cross country appearances.

It has now been confirmed Murray ran a new course record at the National Road Relays in Livingston on Sunday with her 16.42 run for the 5K ‘short leg’ the best over 18 years at the West Lothian course. Murray’s time emphatically eclipsed the 17.06 run in 2001 by previous course record holder, Olympian Lynne Macdougall.

The National Road Relays event attracted the best competitor numbers in 24 years under the auspices of scottishathletics, with Ronhill Cambuslang Harriers enjoying a clean-sweep in the Senior Men’s, Masters and V50 races.