EUGENE, Ore. – Oregon Track Club Elite’s Neil Gourley couldn’t have asked for a better start to his professional career.
In just five indoor races this season, the 24-year-old native of Scotland has lowered his personal best in the 1,500 meters by more than six seconds, claimed his first British Indoor national title in that event, and secured a berth in the European Athletics Indoor Championships, March 1-3, in his hometown of Glasgow.
He can’t wait to compete on the global stage in front of his most ardent supporters.
“It’s difficult to put into words how special it will be to compete in these Championships in Glasgow,” Gourley said. “It will be my first time competing in a senior international championship, and I have the privilege of doing so on a track I have trained at countless times. I’ll also be running in front of many of my friends and family, so I’m determined to defend the house against Europe’s best milers.”
The former standout at Virginia Tech tuned up for the European Championships by posting an indoor 1,500m PR of 3 minutes, 38.32 seconds at the Muller Birmingham Indoor Grand Prix last Saturday (Feb. 16). He set his previous best of 3:44.76 in winning the 1,500m title at the British Indoor Championships.
Still, Gourley was far from satisfied with his eighth-place performance in an epic indoor race that featured a world record of 3:31.04 by Ethiopia’s Samuel Tefera; the third-fastest time in history by Ethiopian runner-up Yomif Kejelcha at 3:31.58; an Australian national record; and 10 personal bests among the 14 finishers.
“I’m sure at some point I’ll look back on this race and be glad that I was a part of such a historic occasion,” Gourley said.
“But to be completely honest, my initial reaction was that I couldn’t believe that I’d just lost by 7 seconds. It’s been a long time since I’ve been that far behind over 1,500m! Time trial style races have never been a strength of mine but I am determined to improve on this and being involved in this level of competition will allow me to do so.”
He will get his chance with the opening round of the 1,500m on March 1 at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow.