A sensational start to the year has given University of Stirling sprinter Martyn Paterson new hope of making the European U20 Championships.
The second year Accountancy and Business Studies student spent his 18th birthday qualifying for the finals of the New Year Professional Sprint at Musselburgh Racecourse.
And it was a sacrifice well made by the Central AC runner as he went on to win the event and pocket the £4000 cash prize.
“I’ve not received the cheque yet, but I’m certainly looking forward to it arriving!” said the Clackmannan teenager. “I’d been doing three months of hard training every day, including on Boxing Day and Christmas Day. My birthday was on 31 December and while most folk would be out celebrating, I was in bed by half 10.
“Before the first day of the heats I was one of the three favourites to win so I knew I had a great chance, but I lost in the heats and only came through as a fastest loser. A lot of my family and friends had bets on me to win so I didn’t want to let them down.”
After scraping through the heats, bookies favourite Paterson won his semi-final of the 110 metres handicap race then chased down Fiona Cleat in the final 10 metres to win the sprint event which is open to both amateur and professional runners.
Paterson added: “I was running well and I was feeling strong so I knew I could do better than my heats, but it was still unreal to go on and win. I compete in a lot of events with the handicap system so I’m quite used to it and it can work to your advantage seeing the people you need to catch up to.”
Paterson, the current Scottish Universities Indoor and Outdoor 400m Champion, had a belated birthday celebration on New Year’s night, but was straight back into training the next day as he prepares for his biggest race season yet.
“I need to compete in as many events as possible to make the qualifying time for the GB U20 Championships,” he explained. “If I can finish in the top two or three there I would put myself in contention to get picked for the GB U20 European Junior Championships.
“I’ve been planning my racing around that so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to defend the Scottish title as it falls at the same time as a GB Junior League meet, but I’ve pencilled in the British University Championships as I really enjoy representing the University.
“It’s good to be off from studies just now so I can get in plenty training and if the weather means I can’t get to Pitreavie, my coach can send me a training plan to do in the University gym and on the running track.”
Central AC President John McDonald paid tribute to his club runner’s achievements. He said: “It was not as if he had a big handicap so he has done very well indeed. That bit extra 400m and 800m training has helped him to win on the day. Martin has been a loyal servant to the club and he deserves all the credit for his performance.”