ATHLETES from across the Borders and further afield have joined the town of Hawick in mourning the loss of a rising star.

Leon Ali was killed on Saturday evening when his Ford Focus collided with a Renault van near Denholm.

The 24-year-old, who trained and raced with his younger brother Dylan, had been a popular presence on running tracks across the region for more than a decade.

Leon was being quietly tipped by many in his hometown of Hawick to follow in his brother's footsteps and win the New Year Sprint at Musselburgh next month.

Leon's coach Che Campbell was amongst the first to take to social media to pay tribute. He said: "You were a hero mate, and the world is a worse place without you.

"I'm gonna miss you. Rest in peace."

A statement from the the City Of Edinburgh Running Festival, where Leon won the 200 metres title earlier this year, said: "Today we have had to cope with the heartbreaking news that our friend and fellow running competitor Leon Ali has been killed in a car crash.

"Our heart felt sympathies go out to his family and friends at this devastating time. He will be hugely missed by us all."

Leon had amassed many titles during a distinguished running career as a youth and senior on the Borders and Highland games circuits.

This year he finished runner-up to Dylan as the Ali brothers completed a memorable one-two in the Selkirk Common Riding Games 110 metres final.

Leon also finished third in the highly prestigious Jed-Forest Sprint.

Saturday night's crash on the A698 at Knowesouth Steading happened at around 9.20pm.

The driver and passenger of the other vehicle received treatment at Borders General Hospital for minor injuries before being released on Sunday.

The A698 road was closed for several hours for collision investigations.

And officers are keen to hear from anyone who witnessed the collision or who was on the road around that time.

Road Policing Sergeant Andy Gibb said: “Sadly this collision has resulted in a young man losing his life and we would like to ascertain the full circumstances of the collision.

“Anyone with information that can assist us is asked to contact officers on 101.”