BRADFORD'S Keith McGhie savoured a near-perfect weekend by taking two gold medals at the 19th European Veterans' Athletics Championships in Izmir, Turkey.
As temperatures within the city's 55,000-capacity Ataturk Stadium hovered around 100 degrees, the Spenborough and District AC athlete followed semi-final and final victories in the V55 800 metres last Friday and Saturday by anchoring the British team to victory over Germany and Italy in Sunday's 4x400m relay.
In the 800m McGhie, from Wyke, clocked the fastest qualifying time in the second of two semi-finals before resisting the challenges of Italians Alfredo Bonetti and Franco Maffai to take the final in 2min 11.27sec – the fastest by a UK athlete in the age category in 2014.
Scot John Thompson, who took 1500m gold earlier in the week, was edged off the podium in fourth place.
Electrical engineer turned freelance journalist McGhie has previously competed for Southend, Chester and Ellesmere Port, Pudsey & Bramley, Leeds City and Richmond & District AC in an athletics career which didn't start seriously until the age of 25.
Ironically this was following an accident in which he suffered multiple fractures (to almost everything but his legs!) which prevented him playing other sports from cricket to badminton.
McGhie, whose best time for the distance is 1:55.8, has now been with Cleckheaton-based Spenborough since 1992 and twice took 800m silver medals in the British Championships – once losing by an agonising seven-hundredths of a second – when he first became a veteran.
The relay success was shared by John Wright (Chorley), Jeff Battista (Boston) and John Mayor (Stevenage), who built a winning advantage before handing the baton over for McGhie to take home over the last leg.
His wife Saipin and ten-year son Michael were also in Turkey to wave the union flag, and McGhie said: "Michael asked me afterwards whether it (the 800m win) was the best day of my life and I said 'No, that was the day you were born', and I'd also better say my wedding day was quite a bit ahead of this!
"I broke my foot in a waterfall in Thailand two years ago and that has never healed properly and I wondered if that was it as far as running went.
"Then an Achilles tendon problem has also restricted my training this year, so I'm as relieved as I am happy.
"My father was a really good cycling time triallist, of whom I was very proud, and I played schools rugby (union), on the wing, to an OK level so have always been quite quick.
"I've always pretty much been self coached but lots of people deserve mentions for the encouragement they have given me, from the late Tim Hepworth, who coached former European junior 400m and Commonwealth Games 4x400m relay champion Peter Crampton, to my current clubmate Michael Dransfield – a better 800m runner than me a few years ago, without whose help I probably would have given up."
McGhie's success was the first European title Spenborough & District AC have gained since then 18-year old Crampton's gold at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham in 1987.