What a cruel sport athletics can be.
Joy and despair, jubilation and consternation were there in abundance as Capital jumpers strove for Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games standards in the final hours before last night’s deadline.
Edinburgh long jumper Allan Hamilton has been knocking on the door for some time but it was still the shock of the day, if not the season, when he soared over the 7.65 metres target to a remarkable 7.81m at the combined British League and UK Women’s League matches at Alexander Stadium, Birmingham, on Saturday.
Hamilton, competing for Manchester on a day when his Scottish club Edinburgh AC triumphed in the women’s match, added an amazing 27cms to his previous best and did it with his last jump of the competition.
On a day which began with a rain storm, the following wind stayed at an obliging plus 1.7 miles per second (the limit is +2mps).
Hamilton said: “I’ve been so, so close in recent competitions – I knew I could do it but that was late.”
Not only did he win the contest but he left Scottish No.1 James McLachlan trailing in his wake with a leap of 7.63m, which itself was poignant.
McLachlan, with one CGQ already to his name, would have needed just 2cms more to clinch his Games place.
So, immediately after the event both men packed their bags and drove north to have one more attempt at a meeting in Livingston yesterday – and Hamilton, with no CGQ before the weekend, so nearly did it again, reaching 7.61m.
“My legs were tired – I’m pretty gutted,” said the 21-year-old Queen Margaret University pharmacy student, who was comfortably ahead of McLachlan.
EAC’s former World bobsleigh champion Gillian Cooke, meanwhile, had also left Birmingham early on Saturday for Livingston having encountered the worst of the rain storm for her attempt to clinch her second long jump standard.
Cooke reached only 5.86m, well short of the 6.20m target, though winning the B event behind clubmate and Glasgow 2014 choice Sarah Warnock, who won with 6.17m.
Another clubmate Lisa Ferguson, who had one CGQ standard, competed as a guest but fared no better and both women suffered injuries and competed yesterday heavily strapped up.
“My body let me down,” said 31-year-old Cooke, who reached 5.80m, while a frustrated Ferguson jumped 5.98m.
“I badly jarred my ankle on Saturday and it flared up again yesterday then my Achilles went in round three.”
A third EAC jumper, Nony Mordi, lay prostrate in tears beside the triple jump pit on Saturday after failing to reach her second Games target of 13.25m.
Mordi, who had put her medical career on hold for six months to train for Glasgow 2014, produced a last round 12.94m for third place.
Overall, Edinburgh won the match from hosts Birchfield by 26.5 points, helped by double wins in the hammer from Games pick Susan McKelvie (63.04m) and Kimberley Reed (55.63m) and the 1500m from Maddie Murray (4:23.92) and Laura Dunn, while Lauren Stoddart set a league record of 7:00.74 in the 2000m steeplechase. Hannah Tarver also set a premier division record of 2:02.13 in the 800m while Jayne Nisbet was joint first in a rainy high jump with 1.80m.
The day was rounded off with a fine 4 x400m win in 3:44.74 by the Capital side, who are still one league point behind Birchfield going into the third match.
Meanwhile, Lynsey Sharp (EAC) ran a personal best of 2:00.90 in finishing fourth in the 800m at the World Challenge meeting in Hengelo, Netherlands last night.
It gave the 2012 European champion the qualifying standard for this year’s event in Zurich in August, although she was disappointed not to break two minutes for the first time.
Glasgow 2014 pick Laura Muir hacked nearly three seconds off her best 1500m time, finishing second in 4:02.91.