“I want to represent my country at the Olympics or major championships, maybe even get a medal. These are big dreams but I am really going to work hard to achieve them.”
Having turned 13 just a few weeks ago, Alex Jamieson from Woodend on Skye is presently a world away from the spotlight and pressure experienced by his role models like Mo Farah. However, in terms of potential and dedication, and with guidance from his parents and expertise from his coach, the budding teenage athlete is already striking a fine balance between keeping his feet on the ground while also dreaming big.
Alex currently trains with the Inverness Harriers Under-15s and has recently completed a successful cross country season with the U-13s which included team gold in the North District Cross Country Champions and the North District Cross League. Second place in the North District Secondary School Championships and third place in the Scottish North District Cross Country League were just two of many individual medals he also earned during the season.
For our second interview in our series celebrating the ‘Year of Young People 2018’ – bhliadhna na h-òigridh, the Free Press spoke to Alex about competing against adults and his ambitions for the future.
How old were you when started to get interested in running?
Alex Jamieson (AJ): “The youngest category is under-11s, so I was probably about nine or 10 when I thought I wanted to have a go at it. We did running in PE and I was enjoying it, I liked doing it, and then as I progressed I got better and better and started to really get into it.”
Do your mum and dad run?
AJ: “Yeah they both run, I don’t know if they were in a club but my dad held a record for the 800 metres at Dingwall Academy but he had an accident and stopped running. My mum and dad both run together now, though. They were with a running club where we used to live and when we moved here they joined the Skye and Lochalsh club, so they just try and do the local runs.”
You ran in the Skinadin race last year, what is it like for you when you are running with adults?
AJ: “I like to run with adults because it pushes me along – it feels like I am doing well. I am running with people that are older than me but I am still doing quite well. It helps me learn all of the different aspects of it (running).”
Do you get nervous when you are racing?
AJ: “I used to get nervous but I am getting used to it, I just tried to get the right warm-up for the run and when I feel confident, I just try to relax and get into the running.”
What stage are you at with your running just now and what’s your preferred distance?
AJ: “The cross-country season has just finished and I was under-13 for that, the distance was about 3km, now I have gone up to under-15, so we are into the track season now. My aim is to do the 800 metres and I am trying to run the qualifying times for the Scottish Schools, I have the north district and the north schools’ qualifying time, but I am six seconds off the Scottish Schools’ qualifying time for the 800 metres, so I am really trying to push for that.”
How often do you train and what does that involve?
AJ: “Inverness Harriers train on Tuesdays and Thursday, but we can only get there once a week because it is such a long journey. We usually go on a Tuesday and then we will probably have a competition in Inverness or somewhere else at the weekend. We get there for about 6.50 pm and it finishes at 8.30 pm. So it’s about an hour and a half in total.”
Do you think about running a lot when you are at school and do your friends take an interest when you are racing?
AJ: “I like to say I balance them, I try to work hard at school. I got picked for the top twenty in S1 to do the UK maths challenge, which I did yesterday, so I am quite pleased with how I am doing in school too.
“People take an interest in what I am doing, and I tell them about how I have done in the latest competition. A few of my friends have got into running because when they see me doing it they thought ‘I will have a go at it as well’.”
Do you watch much running on TV and do you have any role models?
AJ: “I watch a lot of it on TV. When I was younger it was Mo Farah but he has moved on to the road now. Other people coming up like Callum Hawkins, Andy Butchart, there are a lot of people that I can look up to. I get inspired by so much, I keep wanting to do more.”
Do you have any goals or ambitions for the future?
AJ: “I want to represent my country at the Olympics or major championships, maybe even get a medal. They are big dreams but I am really going to work hard to achieve them.”
Alex’s coach, Ross Cairns: “Together with the obvious physical and mental strengths, the more successful athletes have a commitment and drive to their training. None more so than Alex, who I would guess would rack up around 15 to 20k of miles per year to be involved in athletics. So often we see talented athletes leave the sport due to a lack of commitment rather than any physical deficiencies. Clearly, Alex and his family are providing an athletics opportunity to him that is not available from where he is located.”
For more information on the Year of Young People visit: http://yoyp2018.scot/
Article written and interview conducted by Adam Gordon