This is Stuart Weir’s piece on Neil Gourley and his performances in Istanbul 2023!
I have seen Neil Gourley run four times in the last two weeks. He won the British championship, he broke the British record, and took a European silver medal. Not bad, for two weeks’ work.
In Istanbul, Gourley looked relaxed and in control. From very early on in the race, he looked like a medallist. When the Scot challenged Jakob with 150 to go, one wondered if Jake Wightman’s successful tactics in Oregon were to be repeated, but Gourley had to settle for second. He finished at 3:34.23.
His comments on the race were: “The race went to plan, if I’m honest. The plan was to put pressure on Jakob the whole race, just to be on his shoulder. Then with 150 to go to, try to really challenge him, to beat him to the turn. I almost got there but not quite. He did a really good job of holding me off on the last bend, and that is where he won the race, to be honest. He handled it professionally and was the better man today.
Neil Gourley, Istanbul 2023, photo by Getty Images for European Athletics
“I definitely believed I could beat him – he is who he is, and he’s one of the best ever to do this, so it’s always going to be hard to come up against someone like that. I put myself in the right places, but I just didn’t have it today. I got beaten by someone who was just better, and I’ve just got to take that on the chin and move forward for outdoors because we’ve built up some momentum going into it”.
“It was important to win a medal here today; I hadn’t done that yet, I hadn’t won a major medal, so it was important to get that started – these are building blocks for the summer; we’re not there yet but we’re getting there”.
While this is a medal for Britain, it is hard to overlook the Scottish dimension. For a small country, Scotland certainly punches above its weight in middle-distance races. Think Chris O’Hare, Josh Kerr, Jake Wightman, Neil, Laura Muir, Jemma Reekie, Lynsey Sharp, and even Eilish McColgan.
And the World Indoors is in Glasgow next year.