East Kilbride AC's Greg Kelly produced a classy run to become only the 6th athlete in 150 years to win the historic New Year Sprint twice. The 19 year old who also won in 2017 powered up the grass track at Musselburgh Racecourse in front of a near capacity 6000 crowd to snatch victory on the line and claim the £8000 prize and Eric Liddell Memorial Trophy.
This years race was one of the most open in years with no clear cut favourite prior to the heats which were run at Meadowmill on Sunday.
Kelly, who won his heat in the fastest time saw him start as the 4/6 favourite prior to the running of the cross-ties.
Running from the 5.5 metres mark -which was 3 metres back from his 2017 success -the East Kilbride man powered up the softish grass track to win the first x tie, in 11.79 which turned out to be the quickest of the 4 x-ties, second placed Allessandro Schenini, Giffnock North also went through as a fastest loser.The second x-tie was won by the well fancied Billy Doyle, Pitreavie AC who edged out Borders hope Douglas Young,Kelso who also made the final. Last years winner Calum McWilliam East Kilbride AC reached a third successive final going through from the 3rd X-tie along with former Gala rugby player James Parker, Hawick. Lasswade AC's Max Leslie was fancied to progress from X-tie 4 and he duly obliged going through along with Joseph Connelly, Carlisle Aspatria.
Kelly rightly started favourite for the 8 runner final and rewarded his backers with a classy power packed run, closing down his rivals in the last few metres to win by a narrow margin in 11.50 seconds. Douglas Young who only went through as a fastest loser saved his best run until last to finish runner up in 11.58 with with another fastest loser Allessandro Schenini close up in third place in 11.62.
Kelly's coach Gordon Bury was winning the race for the third successive year which emulates the feat of Jim Bradley who produced the winners from 1969-71.
Greg Kelly becomes only the 6th athlete to win the historic race twice, the last man to do so was Willie McFarlane in 1933 and 1934. Inaugural winner in 1870 Dan Wight Jedburgh won again in 1877 when he dead-heated with Robert Kilgour, Edinburgh who had also won in 1876. Davy Roberts of Leith won in 1899 and 1901 while there was a 13 year gap between Jackiee Riach of Ratho winning in 1910 and 1923.
The professional presentation of the event at the racecourse was once again voted a huge success.
The final result
1 Greg Kelly East Kilbride AC 11.50
2 Douglas Young Kelso 11.58
3 Allessandro Schenini Giffnock North
4 Murray Blair Lasswade AC 11.65
5 Billy Doyle Pitreavie AC 11.70
6 James Parker Hawick 11.71
7 Calum McWilliam East Kilbride AC 11.74
8 Joseph Connelly Carlisle Aspatria. 11.82
Published: 2019-01-01 19:22:37