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Athletics: Banchory Stonehaven AC’s Alisha Rees on filling Olympic hero Laura Muir’s running shoes and captaining Scotland

Banchory Stonehaven sprinter Alisha Rees
Banchory Stonehaven sprinter Alisha Rees

Aberdeenshire athlete Alisha Rees was proud to step into Laura Muir’s shoes to captain Scotland at the inaugural European Dynamic New Athletics track and field international at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena.

The Banchory Stonehaven AC sprinter took on the prestigious role after Olympic 1500m silver medallist Muir pulled out of the team with a back injury.

Rees was surprised by the call-up, but then realised that – although only 22 – she has a wealth of international experience in her locker.

She said: “I was really happy about being made captain. I’ve been in Scotland teams since I was 13 or 14, so, after Laura, I was probably the next most experienced from that point of view.

“I have been captain before, but that was when I was 16 in the Celtic Games junior international. I’ve come a long way since then.

“I had to give a speech to the team before the meet and I tried to keep it light hearted. But I emphasised that there are very few opportunities to represent Scotland, so everyone should make the most of the chance.

“I also highlighted the need to have a strong team spirit and for everyone to support their teammates.”

Scotland’s Laura Muir was a star at the Olympics in Tokyo.

Rees was joined on the Scotland team by her Banchory Stonehaven AC clubmate Kathryn Christie, who was making her first appearance for Scotland since 2015, having  shrugged off long-term injury problems.

Rees said: “When I was younger I used to follow everything Kathryn did as she was five years older than me and was doing really well. So, it seemed a bit funny to be her captain on this occasion.”

Rees played a true captain’s part, leading by example when setting a season’s best time of 7.36secs in a top-quality 60m.

That wasn’t too far short of her Scottish record 7.32, but she had to settle for third position behind Spain’s Tokyo Olympic Games 100m representative Maria Perez, who won in 7.22. Irish record holder Molly Scott was second in 7.33.

But Rees is always looking for improvement and believes she could have done better.

She said: “I think I’m quicker than that. I’ve been struggling a bit with my start.

“When I watched it back again I could see that the back end of my race was good. I was definitely coming through towards the finish, but I need to sort the start.

“But, it was a really good competition and I was glad to be part of it.”

Kathryn Christie competing at the Emirates Arena.

The DNA format is a new concept designed to make athletics more attractive to a wider audience by compressing a track and field meeting into a two-hour time frame.

Points were awarded in 10 different track and field events.

First place got 12, second 10, third eight, fourth six, fifth four and two for sixth. These points decided the handicap and running order for the 11th and final event of the day – The Hunt – the winner of which would win the competition.

The Hunt took the form of a mixed relay, handicapped according to points accumulated by each team during the rest of the meeting.

It comprised a women’s 800, a men’s 600, a women’s 400, then a men’s 200.

Six nations took part – Spain, Portugal, England, Ireland and Wales all joining Scotland.

Rees enjoyed the format, despite Scotland finishing at the back of the pack.

She said: “I really enjoyed it. It was good that it gave us the chance to represent Scotland in an exciting team competition and it was fun.

“The Hunt at the end was really good. All the other athletes gathered in the infield to cheer on their team-mates, so that created a good atmosphere and a sense of team spirit.

“The crowd seemed to enjoy it too and they really cheered on the Scots.”

Rees switches focus to British championships

Rees will now focus on the British championships in Birmingham later in the month when she hopes to push closer to her Scottish record.

She said: “I’ve got a couple more weeks of training and, if I can sort out my start, I’m confident I can get faster.”

Rees’s clubmate Christie finished third in Glasgow when pairing with Giffnock North’s Murray Fotheringham in the DNA 2x200m relay.

Christie, who last represented her country in 2017, was thrilled to be back on the international stage.

She said: “It was brilliant to get the selection and represent Scotland again. It’s so tough when you finish your first leg and then suddenly have to look for your position to get the baton again.”

Aberdeen AAC’s Roisin Harrison represented her native Ireland in The Hunt, running a 400m leg to help her team finish in third position.

Roisin Harrison running for Ireland at the European Dynamic New Athletics meet.

As with Christie, this was her first international outing for seven years.

She said: “It was a great experience and so nice to represent Ireland again after so long.”

Scotland finished sixth after an exciting finale which saw Spain take the overall DNA 2022 trophy.