Stephen Mackay has had to be patient in his quest for representative honours but the Inverness Harriers club member is finally to be rewarded next weekend when he represents Scotland in the Loughborough international at Paula Radcliffe stadium.
The Highland athlete, who celebrates his 29th birthday in June, is to compete in the 3,000 metres, the event in which he picked up the silver medal at the 2020 Scottish indoor championships when he set a club record time of 8min 13.9sec.
Mackay has shown excellent form in his first two races of the season. He set a 1500m personal best of 3:45.70 at Stretford on May 8 then came within 0.37 of his 800m best when clocking 1:50.76 at Birmingham four days later.
He said: “I’m absolutely delighted to get the chance to run for Scotland. I’ve probably been in and around that level for a few years, but never quite managed to get selected.
“I thought I had a good chance last summer, but then Covid knocked everything out. There aren’t many opportunities to represent Scotland on the track other than the Loughborough meeting and the Commonwealth Games, so it can be challenging.”
Mackay believes the speed he has shown in the 800m and 1500m races this month will stand him in good stead next weekend.
He said: “I’m pretty confident of running well. I feel as though I’m ready to move on from the time I did in the indoor championships in 2020.”
Mackay has served a long apprenticeship on his journey to international level, having first dipped into the sport as an 18-year-old by tackling the River Ness 10k in 2010.
He completed the course in 35:55 for 22nd position and was spotted by Inverness Harriers coach Charlie Forbes who urged him to come along to the club.
Mackay found his niche in middle distance events, running his first 800m in 2011, and since then it has been a case of gradual progress.
He was silver medalist in the 800m at the 2015 Scottish championships and has consistently performed well over 1500m.
While Mackay is aiming to reach the final of the 1500m at this summer’s British championships and Olympic trials, he is also contemplating a further step up in distance by testing himself in the 5,000m.
The 2022 Commonwealth Games qualifying standards for 1500m (3:40.77) and 5,000m (13:40.50) are his targets and, although achieving them may be a tall order, Mackay is motivated to use them as useful markers.
He said: “I’m aiming for both standards and if I don’t get them, then it has still been useful having them at goals.
“I’d like to try a serious 5000m before the end of the summer to see what I can do.”
Alix Still believes she is capable of more
Despite setting personal best performances in three events, Aberdeenshire’s Alix Still fell short of her target when competing in the Atlantic Conference track and field championships at Raleigh, North Carolina.
The 21-year-old Kemnay athlete, who is based at the University of Virginia, finished sixth in the heptathlon, scoring 5,363 points, just eight short of her best achieved at Charlottesville last month. Miami’s Michelle Atherley won with 6,019.
The result means Still hasn’t qualified for the National Collegiate AA championships in Oregon next month, but she can still be proud of her achievements this year.
She ended the indoor campaign with a best pentathlon score of 3974, which is the second best tally by a Scot. And her PB heptathlon of 5371 is seventh on the Scottish all-time best performers list.
Still had mixed fortunes in the Atlantic Conference meeting. She got off to a great start with a 100m hurdles PB of 13.85sec and also secured her best marks in the javelin (32.95m) and 800m (2:16.48).
But she wasn’t so happy with her other efforts in the high jump (1.63) shot (10.55),200m (25.37) and long jump (5.73).
She said: “Although I did not qualify for NCAAs, which I am very disappointed about because I know that I am more than capable of doing it, I can now reflect on an incredible season.
“This has been the first full season with indoor and outdoor that I have done in three years, so it was interesting to see how my body and mind handled everything.
“I achieved a lot more than I ever thought I would, which is something that I will use to help me be even more successful for next year.”