Lenzie athlete Valencia defies heat in California gold rush

Valencia Wright from Lenzie was a double medalist at the California State Games
Valencia Wright from Lenzie was a double medalist at the California State Games

Lenzie youngster Valencia Wright has claimed a medal double in the California State Games in San Diego.

The 12-year-old Lenzie Academy pupil scorched home in conditions of extreme temperature and humidity to win gold in the 11-12 years girls’ 3000 metres.

And just for good measure she returned the next day to win a silver in the 1500 metres.

Valencia, who has enjoyed a series of cross country, road and track successes this year and won 3,000m silver at last year’s Games in California, was in the States for a month to prepare for the event.

Valencia spent two weeks prior to the event in Palm Desert where the temperatures reached 125 degrees so training for the event was almost impossible.

She asked to use a local track but frustratingly was refused due to insurance reasons.

She ended up running in the grounds of Indian Wells Tennis club where Andy Murray plays in winter, but had to go at 5am as temperatures were ‘only’ about 95 degrees at that time.

On the day of the 3000 itself she had to keep pouring bottles of water over her head right up until they were lead onto track.

But she went into a very early lead in the first lap and increased her lead on every lap, lapping one of the runners and almost catching another on the final straight.

She was very strong but out on her own the whole race.

Her time of 11 minutes five seconds wasn’t a pb but she wasn’t going for time as British athletics and Scottish athletics will not allow her to have a time or distance on her record for 3000 metres until she is under-15 category in the UK.

Having struck gold Valencia returned on day two for the 1500 metres but was not expecting anything after her 3000 metres exploits the day before.

The race went off fast and she sat way back in eighth place as the pace was too quick - and it proved a wise move.

With 300 metres to go she worked up to second and claimed silver - and then had a well deserved week of rest on the beaches of San Diego before coming home.

The West District 1500 metres champion’s track season is now almost over, although she does have the National age grade championships Scotstoun next month.

Then it will be back to what she says she likes best of the cross country season when the conditions are likely to be somewhat coolers than those of California.