Keith Gerrard produced one of the finest moments in his athletics career to date with a ninth place finish in the 10,000 metres final at the European Athletics Championships.
A top 10 position was always going to be a tough challenge for the Manx athlete with 14 competitors having recorded faster personal bests and times this year.
However, Gerrard, Great Britain’s sole representative, ran an impressive race in torrid conditions at Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium.
From the gun, he made his intentions clear and kept the leading athletes within close range.
By the halfway point of the race, a group of nine had broken away from the rest of the field with Gerrard still in contention.
As the pace increased at the seven-kilometre mark he lost touch with the pack but was able to maintain his position over the remaining two miles finishing in a time of 28.57.97.
Afterwards Gerrard said: ‘My goal was to be competitive and be right up there and to step off the track feeling I’d given it everything, which I did.
‘I went out with the lead pack and hung on as long as I could. To come ninth, I’m certainly pleased with that. It’s my first major championships on the track and just getting here was fantastic for me.’
Gerrard received many positive comments including from television commentator Steve Cram who recalled a run with Keith in Douglas many years ago.
The race winner was Polat Kemboi Arikan (Turkey) in 28.22.27.
Gerrard is thanking Martin Bullock Manxsport for the help he has received over the past year, The Royal Bank of Scotland for providing him with a sports scholarship and The Manx Sports Aid Foundation for many years of support.