Gourley ready for rough and tumble

Neil Gourley believes his experience in the rough and tumble world of the American college circuit will work to his advantage at the European Under-23 Championships in Bydgoszcz.

The 1500 metres prospect – who was fourth behind world championship-bound Chris O’Hare, Josh Kerr and Jake Wightman at last week’s UK trials – will be one of the leading British hopes for gold at the event when he opens up in the heats today.

And after making a name for himself his first three years at Virginia Tech University, Gourley insists his move from Glasgow to the States has spurred him on.

“If I was based at home there would only be a few people to work with but I’m part of a culture of wanting to be better,” he said. “But you also do so much tactical racing that I’ve see and done every tactical situation you could think of. So when it comes to championship racing I’ve been there before. That’s something Chris would say benefited him. It’s so much a part of the system.”

Gourley, who is joined in Poland by fellow Scots Jack Lawrie and Kelsey Stewart in the British team, concedes he faces a scrap to muscle his way into Scotland’s Commonwealth Games squad with so many rivals close to home. But the strength of middle-distance running, he says, isn’t by design.

“The secret is that there isn’t really one. We’ve all gone about it in different ways. But there is a culture in Scottish athletics where people aren’t scared of world-class athletes. You saw that with Jake in Oslo. You see Laura Muir, showing we might be from humble Scotland but there’s no reason why we can’t compete with the best of the best. Psychologically, there is a theme there.”

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