Olympic hopes are dashed at Hexham
Published at 09:09, Monday, 09 July 2012
DESPITE winning the decathlon at Hexham’s prestigious 16th International Combined Events Meeting, Kiwi Scott McLaren failed to earn his spot at London 2012.
Around 30 world class athletes descended on the town’s Wentworth Leisure Centre to compete in the annual event, with many using the fixture as a last chance saloon to make it to the Olympics.
However, New Zealander McLaren was to be disappointed as his total of 7713 saw him fall short of his Olympic dream despite it being the fourth best performance at Hexham behind Dean Macey’s meeting record of 7843.
The crowds were excited most to see Jamaican decathlete Claston Bernard in action as the Commonwealth gold medallist of 2002 returned to Tynedale after his debut there in 2009.
However, he fell victim to an achilles injury during the long jump which has put paid to his athletics career.
His withdrawal allowed McLaren and Commonwealth Games medallist Martin Brockman, of Great Britain, to battle it out with one another over the two days for top spot.
The Kiwi led the decathlon with strong performances in the first three events of the 100m, the long jump and the shot putt, and went into the second day with a narrow lead of 11 points.
The schedule he set himself received a setback with a 110m hurdles of 15.49 seconds despite a following wind.
However, his consistency was underlined by a 41.10m throw in the discus and an impressive 4.72m in the pole vault despite strong cross winds.
Brockman, on the other hand, was refusing to let McLaren have his own way when he also set a personal best in the pole vault with 4.72m.
In the final two events, McLaren increased his lead with 60.12m in the javelin against Brockman's 51.93m and, going into the final event, the lad from New Zealand broke his target of breaking 770 points with a four minute and 34.45 second finish in the 1,500m.
It was not just the decathlon which provided plenty of excitement at Hexham as the competition was even more fierce among the females competing in the heptathlon.
And it was a winning return for Slovakia’s Lucia Slanickova who, after winning the competition last year, again showed her pedigree to come out on top of the field of international athletes.
But she was pushed all the way as it was not until the final event from the seven which she took the lead, and with it the glory.
After a first day of competition, Slanickova was behind overnight leader Ellinore Hallin, of Sweden, who won the 100m hurdles in a super fast time of 13.72 seconds.
Estonian Mari Klaup took the high jump with 1.78m and Great Britain international Grace Clements won the shot with a new personal best of 13.27m.
The athletes were aided by generous winds in the 200m, and Hallin maintained her consistency with a strong run of 24.82sec to lead day one with 3535 points.
The second day was dominated by Slanickova who showed her class in the long jump (6.10m), javelin (41.35m), and the 800m which she won with a time of two minutes and 16.18 seconds.
The success in the final event of the weekend saw her set a new personal best total of 5780, which was just 90 ahead of second placed rival Hallin.
Published by http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk