Neil Gourley claims he's proved UK Athletics' experts wrong by securing selection for world championships

·4-min read
Neil Gourley claims he's proved UK Athletics' experts wrong by securing selection for world championships
Neil Gourley claims he's proved UK Athletics' experts wrong by securing selection for world championships

NEIL GOURLEY claims he has proved his backers right – and UK Athletics' experts wrong – by securing selection for next month’s world athletics championships in Oregon.

The 2019 world finalist, second in the men’s 1500 metres at last weekend’s trials in Manchester, was one of ten Scots confirmed in an initial 64-strong British team on Tuesday along with rivals Jake Wightman and Josh Kerr.

It means Gourley returns to the base he was forced to quit last winter when he was dumped by sponsors Nike and axed from Lottery funding following the injury that derailed his Tokyo Olympic quest.

But the 27-year-old Glaswegian revealed the faith of his Dad Ronnie in planning his own trip to worlds after UKA performance bosses claimed there was “a question mark” about his robustness - and that he was “behind 3-4 other 1500m British runners who are also world class” – picked him off the floor.

“Contrastingly, in July of last year my dad bought tickets for the 2022 world championships when I’d barely run a step after injuring my calf,” he revealed. “He had every faith I would be back and better than ever when given the chance.

“My family and friends’ belief in me got me through a tough year and gave me the drive I needed to put things right.”

Eilish McColgan, who missed the trials due to illness, has opted in for a gruelling women’s 5000-10000m double, squeezing disappointed fellow Scot Sarah Inglis out of a place in the shorter event.

Past finalist Andy Butchart will get a shot at the men’s 5000m after bouncing back from suffering a leg fracture just six weeks ago.

While Zoey Clark has been given the consolation of a spot in the 4x400 relay squad following the Aberdonian’s illness-hit run at the trials that blew up her individual chances.

Already guaranteeing selection last weekend was Laura Muir who will hunt an elusive world outdoor medal in the women’s 1500m in Eugene with training partner Jemma Reekie in the 800m. Beth Dobbin doubles in the 200m and 4x100 relay and Nicole Yeargin in the 400m and its relay after both secured domestic silvers.

However the trio of Wightman, Gourley and Olympic bronze medallist Kerr – 1-2-3 in Manchester - will have designs on challenging Norway’s golden boy Jakob Ingebrigtsen and pushing for the podium at the championships which begin on 15 July.

“In 2019, we were all in the world final,” Gourley said. “You can expect us to compete with the best in the world. There's a few guys that are performing exceptionally well. You saw how Jakob ran in Oslo recently. And imagine he's going to go for a similar effort in Eugene.

“But we will be fighting for the medals. There's absolutely no doubt about it. I think Josh proved that last year. That's the level that this country is operating at in the 1500s.”

There was no individual place for newly-crowned UK men’s 100m champion Jeremiah Azu whose red hot time of 9.90 secs in Manchester was ineligible for consideration due to the excess wind speed while Scottish number one Adam Thomas - expected to be confirmed in Scotland’s Commonwealth Games team tomorrow – misses out completely.

A handful of other hopefuls will be added to the squad over the next 48 hours with World Athletics publishing a final list of extra invitations, based on world rankings, at midday on Wednesday.

Nick Percy, who extended his Scottish discus record to 65.00m in landing his fifth UK title, is a certain inclusion. However it is understood that Scottish hammer thrower Chris Bennett will not have his invite accepted by UKA despite sitting in 32nd place in the rankings.

Reigning 200m world champion Dina Asher-Smith and heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson will both defend their titles.

And Olympic head coach, Christian Malcolm, said: “We are really pleased to be selecting such a strong team for the World Athletics Championships Oregon 2022. We saw a very competitive Trials event at the Müller UK Athletics Championships which saw several athletes confirm their place on the plane, and we’ve seen a number of athletes step up on the global circuit so far this season which has been really encouraging.

“We are confident that we’ve selected a team that optimises medal success and that have the ability to progress through rounds to reach finals.”

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