Mike Floyd was quick off the mark to take Alex Smith by surprise at the McCain Challenge Final in Birmingham and serve notice that the battle for what looks like a potential sole place in the men’s hammer in next summer’s London Olympics is not quite a fait accompli yet.
A month short of his 35th birthday, Floyd got off to a perfect start of a substantial PB of 72.45m to unsettle his over a decade younger opponent, fresh from a best-in-a-decade domestic mark of 74.62m, and held on tight to his lead for a precious win when he came under immense pressure by the British champion, who came back within a shade at 72.40m in the third attempt to set up a tense second half of the encounter.
Amazingly enough, his new best, revising his previous figure of 71.73m at the Sportscity in June, could still not lift him a single place up the home rankings to remain fourth and emphasise the progress in the event over the last couple of seasons, with Mark Dry and Andy Frost reaching 71.63 and 70.18m respectively to make up a rare sight of a British quartet over 70m in the same competition. True, a 72.45m fling would have easily topped season affairs even two summers ago.
The overall outcome doesn’t quite question Smith’s well-earned number one in the country, holding a considerable lead over the rest, but will let him know that he can’t afford to relinguish his focus at any given moment.
There were strong suggestions that a similar overturn of ranking edge could be repeated in the women’s version as a spirited Susan McKelvie hurled a big Scottish record of 65.03m to breathe down Sarah Holt‘s neck through the contest but the UK No2 remained composed to work her way to victory with 65.55m, putting together a useful series in the progress.
McKelvie’s new ‘tartan’ record takes her up two places past Laura Douglas and Lyn Sprules to seventh in the UK all-time lists improving from 63.76m at Loughborough last May, seventh Brit over 65m for good measure.
Andy Pozzi continued to strike most promising impressions around as he is making a transition from the junior to the senior sticks to run a classy 13.84 secs into a considerable headwind of -1.0m/sec. In doing so, the European U20 runner-up comfortably held off Nick Gayle, who must have been content in 13.92 secs for second, and Julian Adeniran who was third in 13.99 secs. Incidentally, Malcolm Arnold’s charge ran the fourth fastest time of 13.73 secs (1.5m/sec) by an U20 over the senior hurdles earlier this month so there is sound consistency instilled in his outings as well.
A very competitive women’s 400m hurdles saw U23 Caryl Granville take substantial inroads into her PB to 57.61 secs, scratching her previous best of 58.25 secs in Belgium last June, to defeat a returning 56 secs performer Tracey Duncan, second in 58.45 secs, while U23s Shelayna Oskan and Emma Pullen fought it out to the tape over the flat in a tight finish of 53.20 and 53.26 secs respectively, representing PBs from 53.61 and 53.49 secs for both.
Elsewhere, Daegu-non-goer Jade Nicholls romped to a 56.11m walkover in the women’s discus and Lianne Clarke grabbed a SB of 52.31m to edge out Katie Watts, second at also a SB of 51.80m, in the women’s javelin while footballer-turning-sprinter Greg Cackett ran 10.56 secs into a strong headwind (-2.0m/sec) to pull an impressive victory over European U23 silver medalist Andy Robertson and European U20 silver medalist Adam Gemili, tied across the line in 10.68 secs, over the dash.