Luke earns UK call up

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GIFFNOCK NORTH AAC’s Luke Traynor raced his way to international honour last Saturday at the McCain’s Cross Country Challenge in Sefton Park, Liverpool.

Over four frosty, muddy miles the 19-year-old produced a battling performance to secure fifth place, and earn himself automatic qualification for the UK Under 20 squad that flies to Hungary for the European Championships in two weeks time.

All Britain’s best U20 runners toed the start line and the pace from the gun was breakneck – one athlete described it as feeling like, “800 metre pace for the full four miles” – but Traynor went with the leader and then held on as the chasing group fought back in the final mile. “The atmosphere was fantastic, the crowd were right in our faces on several sections of the course, shouting in our ears,” commented a delighted Traynor, who is current Scottish Cross Country U20 champion.

Traynor’s coach, Dudley Walker, said: “It’s great to see Luke get the GB vest for all his patient hard work over several seasons. It was also nice that all the younger athletes gave Luke a spontaneous round of applause when he finally staggered onto the team bus. The club’s thanks go to the parents, coaches and thirty-plus athletes who got up at four in the morning to travel down and help make this one of Giffnock North’s most memorable days yet.”

Not far behind Traynor was clubmate Neil Gourley, in his first year in the U20 age group, delivering another hard fought race, and the younger man can look forward to even greater things. The two men, however, were not the southsiders’ highest placed finishers: that accolade goes to U11 Jennifer Dougal (third) and U13 Erin Wallace (fourth), who went home with coveted podium prizes from sponsors McCains.