THIS was a good day for two old pals from the Borders. While Guy Learmonth was happy to have booked his place in this afternoon’s 800m final at the SPAR British Athletics Indoor Championships at the Emirates in Glasgow, he seemed just as pleased to hear that his long-time friend Stuart Hogg had led Scotland to rugby victory in Rome after a difficult start to his Six Nations campaign.

Learmonth, a former rugby player in his youth, led for the majority of the third and final heat only to ease up in the closing stages to allow Piers Copeland to pip him on the line.

That meant a brief anxious wait until it was confirmed that his time of 1.48.13 was still good enough for the man from Berwick-upon-Tweed.

“I switched off in the last 20 metres and he came past me on the inside,” said Learmonth. “It’s fine, a wee bit annoying but all good. It’s my fault and it’ll be better [in the final].

“I’m running well so it’s probably a kick up the backside I needed to make sure I do stay switched on and composed. I’d rather do it [in the heat than the final].”

His good mood was heightened with word of the white smoke emerging from Rome to signal a rare Scottish win.

“I’m glad we can beat Italy as we’ve been through the ringer these past few months,” added Learmonth. “Against Ireland and England there was a bit of a fumble over his line so it’s great Hoggy’s got the ball in his hands and scored this time!”

In this afternoon’s final, Learmonth will line up against Josh Kerr, a repeat of last week’s meeting at the Muller Grand Prix at the same venue where Learmonth claimed third, with Kerr just behind him.

“Josh could have picked the 1500 metres and won that easily I think,” added Learmonth. “Obviously I want to finish first, Josh can finish second. As long as I’m on top of the podium, that’s all that matters.”

Kerr, the Seattle-based athlete, also finished second in his heat and was looking forward to the final.

“It was good,” said the 1500m world finalist of his run. “In the last 200m I knew there weren’t a lot of people who could run 1:47 here so I eased off a bit to recover a bit for the final.

“I’m feeling confident ahead of the final. It takes a bit of time to get into these 800m races for me and getting around those bends. But it’s a lot of fun and something different.

“It’s great competing in Glasgow again. I looked into it and before last weekend I hadn’t ran here for five years. So it’s nice being back in Scotland and having family watching me.”

There will be two Scottish women in the 800m final as well, with Mhairi Hendry and Philippa Millage both making it through qualifying.

It caps an incredible week for Millage who paced Jemma Reekie to victory in France on Wednesday night.

This is the first time the British indoor championships have been held in Glasgow, although a sheen has been taken off the event with no world championship places up for grabs with next month’s event postponed due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

There was success in the men’s 60m final for Andrew Robertson– not that one – in a time of 6.66 seconds, with Scot Adam Thomas fourth.

David King won gold in the men’s 60m hurdles with a time of 7.78 seconds, with Edinburgh’s Scott Connal finishing sixth and Andrew Murphy a place back with a personal best.