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Seumas sets sights on more success

Seumas MacKay back at the Clickimin track following gold medal success in Gotland. Photo: Shetland News/Chris Cope.

A TEENAGE athlete who won his first gold for Shetland at this year’s Island Games is targeting more success in national competitions.

Seumas MacKay’s thrilling performance in the 800m race was one of the highlights from the blues’ week in Gotland recently.

His time of 1.53.32 in fact placed him as the fastest 800m runner in Scotland for his age group by about three seconds, and the fifth quickest in Britain.

Not stopping there, the 17 year old’s time in the 1500m competition is also the best for his age in Scotland.

It’s all come with the added strain of having ME, or chronic fatigue syndrome, which means MacKay has to pace his training carefully or be threatened with debilitating tiredness.

Reflecting on his Island Games gold, the runner told Shetland News that he “wasn’t expecting to win at all” and, at the start of the year, didn’t think he would even make the final.

“As the season went on and I was running faster times then the expectation for me to do well was rising so I think others had more confidence in me doing well,” MacKay said.

The moment when Seumas crossed the finishing line to claim gold in Gotland. Photo: Shetland Island Games Association.

“After the heats and running the fastest time I think everyone expected me to win so I was very nervous as I had little confidence in myself. I was so relieved when I did cross the line and it was a bit surreal as I didn’t think it would ever happen.”

Later this month, MacKay and fellow Shetlander Leigh Nicolson will take part in a Scottish schools international event in Dublin, while he will also feature in an islands select team in Grangemouth.

But MacKay is keen to take part in national under 17 and 20 events after that, as well as race in England.

He praised the role his coach David Wagstaff has had in boosting his times, citing him as an integral reason for his success.

“There’s no way I could ever be running the times I am at the moment if it wasn’t for him,” Mackay said.

“The middle distance group at the club have all seen huge benefits and improvements in out performances since he started coaching us. He’s such a good coach as he, along with all the other coaches at the club, sacrifice so much time to train us all.”

MacKay trains four times a week at the running track in Lerwick, while he supplements that with gym work.

The teenager has been involved in athletics since he was eight, but it was only in the last few years that he began taking part in bigger competitions.

So what does the longer-term future hold? “I think I’ll keep running for a while,” he said.

“I’m not sure what I want to do when I leave school but I’d hope to continue athletics and just see how far I can go with it.”