Biggar cousins Katie Foss and Leah Keisler among new Scottish under-20 women 4 x 200m record holders

Katie and Leah (front row, left) with other medallistsKatie and Leah (front row, left) with other medallists
Katie and Leah (front row, left) with other medallists
Biggar-based relay cousins Katie Foss and Leah Keisler  were part of a 4 x 200m squad which  sensationally broke the  under-20 national record while landing prestigious silver medals.

Biggar High pupils Katie and Leah ran the second and third legs respectively for Giffnock North Athletics Club at the recent Scottish National Senior Women’s Championships in Glasgow and were only beaten by a tenth of a second by much more experienced athletes competing for Edinburgh.

In finishing in one minute 42.43 seconds, Katie’s mum Hazel Foss revealed that the Giffnock quartet had eclipsed the previous best under-20 women’s time of a squad including future star Eilidh Doyle (nee Eilidh Child, a 4 x400m bronze medallist for Team GB at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro who has also won World, European and Commonwealth medals.

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“The previous Scottish under-20 4 x 200m record of one minute 43.71 seconds was set in January 2003 before the girls were even born,” Hazel told the Carluke and Lanark Gazette.

“That team included Eilidh and Gemma Nicol (who represented Scotland at the 2014 Commonwealth Games).

“They are quite big names, especially Eilidh who is very well known, so that makes what the girls have done even more special.

“The girls – whose team also included first leg runner Eve Denholm (18) and final leg ace Rachel Callan (16) – were in shock when they heard their under-20 relay team time was better than the one Eilidh was in.

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“They found out in a text I sent to them when they were at training so it was a good end to the day for them.”

Hazel watched Katie and Leah’s brilliant exploits at the Emirates Arena with her mum Helen Thompson and they were impressed.

“We were sitting near the changeover bit (from Katie to Leah) and my mum was just extremely excited and shouting to everybody that it was her granddaughters and how proud she was.

“It was quite emotional for her watching. It was only a dip at the line by Edinburgh which beat Giffnock.”

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“That’s why the race was so exciting, because these Edinburgh girls are an excellent team and some of ours hadn’t acually run together in a relay team before.

“So they really did do themselves proud.”

Katie and Leah were both members of Law and District AAC before joining Giffnock North AC, Katie two years ago and Leah very recently.

Katie also made headlines last year when she was part of an under-17 squad which broke the under-17 national record at the 2019 version of the same competition.

The under-17s quartet’s aggregate finishing time was one minute 43.2 seconds.

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Katie, Leah and their team-mates’ ability levels are developing at a considerable rate, as they continue to work their way up the ladder of women’s running.

A considerable amount of credit is due to their veteran coach Michael Love, who has been helping out athletes in his key role for over four decades now.

Hazel said: “Michael coaches Katie and Leah at several venues including Carluke, Biggar, Wishaw, Dumfries and the Emirates. Basically, wherever we can get to he’ll train them.

“He is a volunteer coach who has been volunteering for 40 or 50 years within athletics.

“So he just does it for the love of the sport.

“And the two girls have been with him since they were 10.

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Katie and Leah are now preparing for this weekend’s Under-20 Scottish Championships, which are again being held at the Emirates Arena.

But the cousins will be competing individually on this occasion, with Katie in the 400m and Leah in the 400m hurdles.

“We are hoping they can get in amongst the medals,” Hazel said.

“It all depends about what happens on the day so don’t quote me!

“They have missed so much training at their local tracks with the way the weather is.

“So they have been training out the back to keep their fitness up.”

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