Commie Games selectors play it safe

Ray Bobrownicki, back row, right, believes he can get back to his best high jump of 2.22m set in 2011
Ray Bobrownicki, back row, right, believes he can get back to his best high jump of 2.22m set in 2011
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There were no real surprises when Commonwealth Games Scotland announced the final team line-up for Glasgow 2014 at Stirling Castle yesterday.

It included nine members of Edinburgh Athletic Club: 800 metres runners Lynsey Sharp and Emily Dudgeon, high jumpers Emma Nuttall and Jayne Nisbet, long jumper Sarah Warnock, shot-putter Kirsty Yates, hammer-thrower Susan McKelvie and 1500 metres runners Chris O’Hare and Jake Wightman; and it would have been one more had Freya Ross not had to withdraw through injury from the marathon, her replacement being named yesterday as Joasia Zakrzewski from Dumfries.

There were also two Lasswade club members, Guy Learmonth (800m) and Greg Louden (4x400m relay) and Edinburgh University’s American-born high jumper Ray Bobrownicki.

There was understandable disappointment too for three more athletes, Edinburgh-based Scottish 1500m champion Mark Mitchell, and EAC members Kimberley Reed (hammer) and Allan Hamilton (long jump).

A record 310 competitors who have met the strict selection criteria were named from 17 sports with 31 newcomers and one replacement among the 58 track and field athletes added to those already pre-selected.

With three athletes bidding for two places in both 1500m and women’s hammer the selectors chose the safety first route of taking the first two on strict ranking. It must have been a close-run thing in the 1500m where European junior champion Wightman, not 20 till next month, and with a best of 3:41.40, had the edge by 0.08 on 26-year-old former Scottish champion Mitchell, with Bristol and West club member Dave Bishop the fastest with 3:39.27, but with all his best times having been set in the USA.

“It’s obviously very disappointing for me personally having run three qualifying times very recently but more so for my family, friends and everyone’s who’ve supported me,” said Mitchell.

With Ayr’s Rachel Hunter a “shoo-in” for the hammer, Mary Erskine FP Myra Perkins gained the nod over 19-year-old Kimberley Reed by virtue of her 63 metre throw at the Loughborugh International, both women having several qualifying marks, but Reed will re-focus on the World Junior Champioships in Eugene, USA, next month: “Someone had to miss out and the World Juniors is probably a better competition for me – I’m ranked eighth and could get a medal if I can find some form.”

Hamilton is not the only athlete to miss out by having only one of the two qualifying standards.

But the huge margin of 26 cms he had to spare in reaching a lifetime best of 7.81m for his first CGQ and his near miss the following day following a six-hour drive north and little rest surely suggests he would be worthy competitor “capable of competing with distinction?”

But the selectors are allowed no discretion and his appeal was dismissed.

Ray Bobrownicki, who was born in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania 30 years ago and became a British citizen last February, is studying for his PhD in sports psychology at Edinburgh University and has won three British Universities indoor titles and two outdoor.

Though his best of 2.22m was set back in 2011 he comfortably attained the 2.17m CGQ standards and believes he can get back to his best by the time of the Games.

In spite of bad weather at a British League meeting at Gateshead last Saturday he insisted that the high jump be held outdoors as that might also happen at Hampden next month.