SOL Sweeney would rather be in Berlin right now, competing against the cream of the continent’s athletics talent like his training partners Laura Muir and Jemma Reekie. But considering Scotland sent a whopping 17-strong contingent over in Great Britain colours for the European Championships, it is another show of the sport’s gathering strength in this country that he still encounters such stiff competition at this weekend’s FPSG Seniors and Under-17 Scottish Championships at Grangemouth.

More than 700 athletes have entered the combined event – a 22% rise from last year – a list of seniors which includes this season’s indoor world championship participants such as Grant Plenderleith and Mhairi Hendry not to mention hammer thrower Chris Bennett and 400m runner Kirsten McAslan, who have hot-footed it back after early events in Berlin. There is a share of a £2,000 prize pot to be had and footage of the event will streamed as far away as North America.

As for the Sweeney, while Chris O’Hare and Jake Wightman were out in Germany last night competing in the 1500m, the Perthshire athlete is bracing himself for a battle against Neil Gourley, Jamie Williamson and others in a high-powered 1500m field.

While Sweeney, a winner in a Scotland vest over 3000m at the Loughborough International event earlier in the year took another chunk off his PB for the distance at a race in Watford this week with a run of 3.42.77, Williamson – reared in Germany – still finished ahead of him on the night, while Gourley – so unfortunate to miss out on a spot for Berlin – will go into the race the favourite. All will know that a time inside 3.41 will be required for a share of that prize pot.

“At the start of the season I took some big chunks out of my PB and in the last few weeks I have just been chipping away at it,” Sweeney told Herald Sport. “I took 0.5 off it in Belgium, then another 0.2 in Watford and I still feel I have a wee bit quicker in me. I am happy to keep knocking away at it just now, make sure I am still improving.

“Even with the guys away in Berlin, it is such a strong field,” he added. “Particularly having someone like Neil in the field – he is a world class athlete now. It is tough competition but that makes it a good race. Jamie is running well just now and he is in there too.

“You need to beat 3.41 to be in with a shout of the £2000 but it all depends how it is run. I think I am capable of running that time although it would have to be a PB for me.

“But I think it just depends how it all happens, a tactical 1500m isn’t going to be anywhere near that time but if someone decides to go for it from the start then they have got a chance. We just have to kind of wait and see and be ready for whatever.

“I’ve been racing at Grangemouth since Under-15 level but the past few years the strength and depth of athletes has grown a lot. There is much tougher competition but that helps spur you on. It is difficult to say you are the best in Scotland right now, there is a real level of competition.”

While Sweeney won’t have his coach Andy Young there in person – he will be out in Berlin with Muir and Reekie – he will go over his race plan by telephone beforehand. It is understandable if he has one eye on events out in Germany.

“Obviously I have been cheering them on too,” he said. “Laura is in a good position to challenge for the win and Jemma was just looking to do as well as she can. She has made a huge improvement this year, so just to make the team in the first place is a great achievement in itself. I have been watching quite a bit of it, it is good to see all the British athletes doing well, especially with the depth of Scottish athletes in the team. In most of the sessions I will be in front of Laura but you can always hear her coming up behind you. You always know if you start slacking she will come tearing past me. Seeing those two in GB teams gives me something to aspire to.”

‘I’ve never won a Scottish Senior title before so I am looking to try and correct that,’ said Gourley. “I’m not sure I will do an 800m-1500m double with the Birmingham Diamond League coming up. But I am looking forward to racing again in Scotland.”