ONE of Scotland's greatest ever sprint coaches has been honoured with a lifetime achievement award.

Charlie Russell has guided many of the region's fastest boys and girls to become national champions in a career that spans almost six decades.

The 80-year-old from Innerleithen began coaching while competing as a sprinter on the local Border Games circuit.

And throughout the 1970s, 80s, 90s and into the 21st century he has continued to produce a continuous stream of Scottish age-group and senior champions.

On Friday evening at the City of Edinburgh Running Festival he was presented with a lifetime achievement award from meeting organiser Graeme Armstrong.

A surprised Charlie told us: "I wasn't expecting to receive anything - I was just pleased to have been asked along as a guest for the evening.

"There were a few familiar faces from the past there when they did the presentation which added to the honour.

"I'm grateful to everyone for organising this."

Among the familiar faces were three former New Year Sprint winners - George McNeill, Dougie Burgess and Dave Valentine.

And the world's oldest footrace podium is a place where a few of Charlie's own runners have ended up - most recently in 2008 with Craig Robertson from Galashiels.

Although Charlie is officially retired, he still guided Cardrona's Ryan Houten to third place this year at Musselburgh.

He added: "It's difficult not to be involved in athletics as I have had so much pleasure from it over the years.

"I am officially retired, but you never know."

Although best known for his sprint knowledge and ability, he's also nurtured some of the region's best middle-distance athletes, such as Paul McDougall and Tommy Ashby, to success on the national stage.

Two of Charlie's most recent proteges were in attendance on Friday - former Scottish and British Under 23s champion Stacey Downie and winner of the coveted Jed-Forest Sprint Amy Clancy.

Amy told us: "If anyone deserves a lifetime achievement award it is Charlie Russell.

"As an athlete you couldn't ask for a better coach or a friend."

Stacey, who is still in contact with her former coach for advice as she challenges for honours over 400 metres, said: "If I was to rate every coach I've known Charlie would be up there at the very top.

"He inspired a confidence in you to go on and run well and win.

"He has a great attention to detail and is someone I'll always turn to when I'm not sure about something.

"This award is certainly well-deserved."