Chris Tomlinson should get the homecoming he desires this week. He admitted before yesterday's long jump final at the World Indoor Championships here that his fiancée Lucia Rovardi, the West End actress currently appearing in The Buddy Holly Story, had told him before he left: "Don't bother to come back if you haven't got a medal. You need to start delivering."
The 6ft 6in long jumper – whose career record before this weekend included a fifth place at the Olympics but no major medal – did just that as he provided Britain with their fourth silver in the Luis Puig velodrome following Friday night's efforts by Dwain Chambers, Kelly Sotherton and Jeanette Kwakye.
Tomlinson held a narrow first round lead with 8.06 metres until the fifth of the six rounds of jumping, when South Africa's Godfrey Mokoena, a former national ballroom dancing champion at the tango and cha cha, stepped in to register a winning effort of 8.08.
Despite that the Teessider – who was swiftly congratulated by the man whose British record he eclipsed in 2002, UK Athletics president Lynn Davies – could draw much encouragement, and indeed a cheque for $20,000, from a performance that included three jumps over eight metres.
The field included Saudi Arabia's Mohamed Salman Al Khuwalidi, one place above him in the world rankings, and Jamaica's world and Olympic silver medallist James Beckford.
"It would have been better if I'd managed to win the thing," Tomlinson said. "But it's my first major medal and if someone had offered me this beforehand I would have accepted it."