Athletics: North-east club’s proud record of nurturing top competitors with a desire to succeed on major stages

Alisha Rees

Banchory Stonehaven AC coach Willy Russell is immensely proud of the way the club’s young sprinters have been making a massive impact on the national and international stage in recent years.

Kathryn Christie and Alisha Rees have been the headline acts, remarkably winning seven of the 12 available Scottish senior women’s outdoor sprint titles since 2012, despite being in their teens.

Russell said: “Kathryn and Alisha have, between them, dominated the 100m and 200m. Kathryn was 17 when she won the 100m and 200m at the 2012 senior championships, becoming the first under-20 age group athlete to achieve this since Olympian Linsey Macdonald in 1981.

“She repeated the double in 2014 and may well have added more titles but unfortunately picked up injuries, although she is getting back to fitness now.

“Alisha, who is now 18, finished her 2017 season by winning the Scottish senior 200m title for the third year in a row. Although many athletes have won it three times or more, only Edinburgh AC’s Sinead Dudgeon has previously won it three times in a row, between 1994 and 1996.

“Sinead was 18 at the time of her first win whereas Alisha was only 16.

“It is fantastic to see that Kathryn and Alisha also feature prominently in the Scottish all-time best performers lists.

“Alisha is the fastest Scottish under-20 age group 100m runner of all-time in the 100m with a time of 11.62secs, set this year. Only seven Scottish senior athletes have ever run faster.

“Her best 200m time of 23.32, set when winning the Manchester international this year, is the second quickest ever in the under-20s and is the sixth best at senior level.

“Kathryn is seventh fastest in the under-20 all-time 100m rankings with 11.86, and she is 10th fastest in the 200m with 24.20.”

Rees, who has recently moved to Loughborough University to study sociology, enjoyed a particularly successful summer.

Aside from her Scottish successes she represented the Great Britain under-20 side on three occasions, the most notable being at the European junior championships in Italy where she was part of the 4x100m team which won bronze. She was also fourth in the individual 200m.

Russell added: “Aside from Alisha we had another athlete, Maddy Silcock, who was selected to represent the Scotland senior team at Loughborough before her 17th birthday.

“She also represented Scotland in the 100m at the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas and was picked for another youth international match but had to pull out because of injury.

“Another sprinter, 15 year-old Craig Strachan, represented Scotland at the schools international in Dublin where he ran in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m. He also competed for his country in the UK School Games at Loughborough, where he set a personal best 200m time of 22.24secs. He also won the Scottish under-17 200m title.

“High jumper Claire McGarvey, winner of the Scottish schools title and whose lead coach is Tom Leeson, represented Scotland in the same two youth internationals at which Craig ran.

“In recent years many other young athletes who train with the sprint group at the Banchory section of the club have put in a series of excellent performances.

“These include Lindsey Young in the sprints, Rory Stewart in the javelin and Ralph Silcock in the pentathlon.

“For such a small club, it’s an amazing record.”