If nothing else, the sight of Roald Bradstock competing in the centre of this north Birmingham arena brought a vivid splash of nostalgia to the opening night of the Aviva European Trials and UK Championships yesterday.
The 48-year-old could be described as a colourful character. An artist who has been dubbed "the Olympic Picasso" (his work has been exhibited at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne), he holds the world record for throwing an iPod (154 yards), an egg (118 yards) and a goldfish (56 yards).
Bradstock also holds a burning ambition to make his mark as a javelin thrower at the Olympic trials in 2012, if not at the Olympic Games. Hence his appearance in the trials for next month's European Championships, resplendent in the kit he wore on his Olympic debut for Great Britain in Los Angeles way back in 1984.
The Hertfordshire native finished seventh in those Games and 25th in Seoul four years later before moving to the United States and switching allegiance to the United States, for whom he was a reserve for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
In his retro vest, Bradstock could not quite roll the years back last night, finishing eighth with a best throw of 65.17m, 3.40m shy of a rostrum position. Still, it was a commendable effort in his first British championship appearance since 1994. "I was a young man of 32 then," he reflected. "My goal now is to turn my status back to British and make the Olympic trials in 2012, when I'll be 50. That would make it eight trials for me: four British and four American.
"My real dream is to finish my career in the Olympics in the area where I started my career. I'm from Broxbourne. I trained in the Lea Valley. I'm from Enfield Harriers. The Olympic B qualifying standard for the javelin is likely to be 77.50m, which is a long way from where I am now but it's a possibility."
There has to be a possibility of Dwain Chambers becoming the first British sprinter to break 10sec on British soil without excessive wind assistance in the 100m final this afternoon. The Belgrave Harrier clocked 9.99sec at the European Team Championships in Bergen last weekend and was the fastest in the heats last night, making 10.18sec look more like a jog down the home straight.
"My aim is just to qualify for the European Championships," Chambers said. "If I get rewarded with a sub-10, that would be a bonus." It would also help to compensate for the absence of the expected star turn of the championships.
Jessica Ennis has been running faster than ever this summer, quick enough even for the world heptathlon champion to catch a cold – or at any rate the virus that will keep her confined to home quarters in Sheffield this weekend. She had been due to compete in four events: the high jump and 100m hurdles today, followed by the long jump and shot tomorrow.
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