Record-breaking Proctor jumps at chance of Games
Monday 25 June 2012
The agony and ecstasy of striving to make the home Olympics did not get any more acute than the drama that unfolded in the women's long jump on the final day of the 2012 trials in Birmingham yesterday.
For Shara Proctor, the 23-year-old from the Caribbean who cannot compete for Anguilla because her homeland does not have a National Olympic Committee, there was the unbridled joy of clinching her place in the British team by breaking a UK record which had stood since 1983. "It's older than me," she said after a 6.95m leap that eclipsed Bev Kinch's 29-year-old mark by 5cm. "It's a dream come true. I'm on top of the world right now. It couldn't be a better feeling right now – British record, Olympic place. What more can you ask for?"
One centimetre more would have done for poor Lorraine Ugen. The 20-year-old Londoner, a student at Texas Christian University, rose to the big occasion with a 20cm improvement on her lifetime best to finish runner-up. Her second-round effort of 6.74cm, however, fell a single tantalising centimetre short of the Olympic A standard qualifying mark.
"To come so close is very disappointing," Ugen said. "I'm going to have to go out next week and hit it hard again."
Ugen – the latest class act to emerge from the stable of jumpers guided by Frank Attoh, the guru behind world indoor triple jump champion Yamilé Aldama – has until midnight on Sunday to achieve the A grade. Having not been among the provisional list entered for the European Championships, which open in Helsinki on Wednesday, the Blackheath & Bromley Harrier will probably have to go for broke in a UK Women's League meeting on Saturday.
In keeping with a trials event of a Johnny Nash nature – throwing up more questions than answers – Abigail Irozuru failed to lay claim to a place with a top-two spot, finishing down in fourth with 6.48m, but has an A standard to her name this summer. At least the equation was already resolved for Jessica Ennis, who finished a disappointing sixth with 6.27m.
Her British record performance in Austria last month having effectively secured selection for the heptathlon, the great all-rounder was multi-tasking at the trials purely as preparation for London.
The Sheffield woman won the high jump and 100m hurdles on Saturday but struggled with her run-up yesterday, registering three fouls and two run-throughs. "I think it's to do with my rhythm and the way I'm attacking the board," she said. "I've just got to go away and work on it a bit."
Holly Bleasdale had a bit to work on when she failed to negotiate the pole vault qualifying height of 4.50m at the first two attempts. The emerging British star of the indoor season nailed it at the third attempt and proceeded to show her world class mettle, clearing 4.71m, breaking her own British outdoor record.
There were tears of joy for mother and daughter when Eilish McColgan, with an A standard already under her belt, clinched her place with a convincing win in the 3,000m steeplechase. "To be her coach is an honour but to be her mother is something else," said mum Liz McColgan, a 10,000m silver medallist at the 1988 Olympics.
At 38, Jo Pavey booked her ticket in the 5,000m, outkicking Barbara Parker in the home straight. As expected, Andy Pozzi and Lawrence Clarke claimed the two automatic spots in the 110m hurdles, the Bath-based training partners finishing one and two respectively. Third place went to the injury-plagued Andy Turner.
32 days to go until the Olympics
32: Age of Chris Hoy when he won three cycling golds at the 2008 Beijing Games - in the sprint, team sprint and keirin.
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