Neil Gourley aims high on Eugene homecoming after altitude training – BBC

Neil Gourley aims high on Eugene homecoming after altitude training  BBC

Neil Gourley (left) was part of a Scottish 1-2-3 at the UK Championships, along with Jake Wightman and Josh Kerr

Gourley, 27, came second at the UK Athletics Championships at the weekend, securing a World Championships place.

Gourley moved to Flagstaff, Arizona, at the turn of the year – a city that is 7,000 feet above sea level.

“The training has been tough out there; I think it’s made a big difference,” he told BBC Scotland.

“I have been doing training camps where I have really been touching on the stuff that I don’t like so much, but it is definitely the stuff that needs to be improved – the longer stuff, the real endurance side of things.

“I have been working on getting stronger aerobically over these past eight to 12 months and it is showing in my performances. I am performing much more consistently and I have got the strength to live with quicker paces. It’s a move that has paid off and will continue to do so.”

Next month’s World Championships take place in Eugene, Oregon, where Gourley spent two-and-a-half years prior to his switch to Flagstaff.

“I have done a lot of training in that stadium at Hayward Field, but this will be something else to get in there in front of a big crowd,” he said. “It will be coming full circle to go back to a home away from home in Eugene.

“It is a 400m track at the end of the day, but yes, it will be a familiar environment. There is so much of Eugene that I am looking forward to going back to, certain places to eat, that kind of thing – simple things like that will make me feel quite at home.”

Gourley shared the UK Championship podium in Manchester with fellow Scots Jake Wightman and Josh Kerr.

Wightman burst clear with 200m to go to take gold in 3:40.26 as Gourley, the 2018 and ’19 champion, ran 3:40.38, with last year’s winner and Olympic bronze medallist Kerr finishing in 3:40.63.

Incredibly, it was a fourth Scottish clean sweep of the medals in this event in the past six years.

Gourley admits being among this “special generation” of middle distance runners does “feel surreal at times”.

“I just wasn’t that talented as a teenager,” he added. “It comes from having some perspective and zooming out and thinking ‘wow, I am so lucky to be a part of this’. I do have to pinch myself a little bit, because I never thought as a youngster I would get here. I have got full belief in myself now.”