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Athletics: Aberdeen’s Roisin Harrison points to coach’s influence after BUCS success sets stage for further international honours with Ireland

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

Having managed to compete in only one British University Championship (BUCS) before last weekend’s event in Chelmsford, Aberdeen-based Irish international sprinter Roisin Harrison made sure to make up for lost time.

Harrison, 25, who is studying for a PhD in psychology at the University of Aberdeen, put in a string of stellar performances, which culminated in a silver medal in the women’s 200m.

She also managed a personal best in the process, running 23.83sec to finish behind Wales international Hannah Brier.

Her results at the event continued Harrison’s upward trajectory.

After an indoor season which saw her represent Ireland for the first time in seven years – in the 400m – Harrison already had reason to enter the 2022 season with optimism.

Her gold medal at the Scottish University Championships in Grangemouth, followed by last weekend’s silver at BUCS, will surely see her push for further international honours.

The fact Harrison is keeping people guessing as to her best distance may well be posing herself – and selectors – with a welcome dilemma.

Harrison says she owes much of her progress over the past five years to her coach, Eoghan MacNamara.

She said: “I think Eoghan’s been brilliant, really, because one of the things I really liked about him when I initially moved to him was that, yes, he was inexperienced, but he was very knowledgeable and he was always willing to look things up and learn. He’s very conscientious in that way.

“One thing I really crave is an ability to ask questions and get a good answer. If I don’t know why I’m doing something, I’m reluctant to do it.

“With Eoghan, if he writes a particular training programme, he would be very happy to speak to me about why he wrote it. But importantly, we could have a conversation and if, at the end of that conversation we decide it’s not a good idea, it would change.”

Harrison’s first two competitions of the season have marked the beginning of a typically hectic campaign which will see her wrack up the travel miles.

She has a National Athletics League match in Cardiff this weekend, before planning to head to Belfast next week for an Irish Milers Meet.

After the Irish Senior Championships in June, however, Harrison will have the chance to sit down with MacNamara and see what her performances have yielded. Should her 400m times continue to come down, Harrison has a good chance of representing Ireland in the relay at the European Championships, which take place in Munich this summer.

Either way, it is not going to be an idle summer for Harrison, who is aiming for plenty more this year – despite her early season successes.

Varying degrees of success for other north BUCS representatives

Elsewhere at BUCS last weekend, Aberdonian athletes and Scotland internationals Rebecca Matheson, Claire McGarvey, and Jane Davidson all fought hard as they looked to continue the momentum from their successes at the Scottish University Championships two weeks ago.

Robert Gordon University student, 23-year-old Rebecca Matheson, raced six times in the space of three days, reaching the final of both the 100m and 200m.

Working under new coach Ryan Oswald this season, Matheson – who lives with her family in Keith – will be hoping to dip under 12 seconds in the 100m and cement herself in the top-10 of the Scottish rankings.

Aberdeen University’s Jane Davidson, meanwhile, endured a weekend of mixed fortunes in Essex.

A personal best in the 100m of 12.34, backed up with a 12.47 in the semi, put the 19-year-old off to an excellent start to the competition. But in her main event, the 100m hurdles, Davidson clattered the penultimate barrier before grinding to a halt when in contention for a place in the final.

Claire McGarvey, who had previously been based in Banchory before moving to Glasgow for university, came within 3cm of a medal in the high jump. The Scottish number one ranked athlete, aged 20, leapt 1.74m to place fifth in the final – just 1cm short of her personal best.


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