Britain’s first ever 80m-plus throw secures Miller the Commonwealth hammer title, as Mark Dry bags bronze on the Gold Coast
Nick Miller made history in Australia on Sunday as he became the first British athlete to surpass 80 metres in the hammer, breaking the Commonwealth Games record in the process.
The 24-year-old had warmed up for the competition by breaking his own British record with 78.29m at the Stanford Invitational at the end of last month. But that proved to be just a taster of things to come, as he improved to 80.26m in the Carrara Stadium to get gold for England, going one better than his silver medal in Glasgow four years ago.
Matthew Denny delighted the home crowd as the Australian improved his PB to 73.82 and then 74.88m to secure silver, while Scotland’s Mark Dry let out a huge roar after his final-round throw of 73.12m which bagged him bronze.
“It is just incredible to win the gold,” said Miller. “It is such a special moment for me as my family are in the crowd, they will be more pleased that I threw over 80m.
“I thought I could throw 80m, it is the distance every hammer thrower wants to make. The best part is that I beat my coach (Tore Gustafsson). We joked for years that I’d throw over his best (80.14m) and when 80.26m came up, it was one up on him.”
On breaking the Games record, which had been 77.53m set by Stuart Rendell in Melbourne in 2006, he added: “The record was a goal. I didn’t expect it as such but I knew if I threw well it was possible.”
Miller had opened with a throw of 63.60m before a foul in the second round, but he really took control of the competition in the third round when he moved into the lead with 76.48m. That would have been enough for victory, but he launched the hammer out to his record-breaking mark in round four, before 79.75m in round five and a foul from his final attempt.
Denny is contesting both the hammer and discus at the Games and secured a strong first part to his double campaign. All three of his valid throws were further than his previous PB, his silver medal-winning mark coming in the fourth round.
“Those first two rounds (fouls) were pretty terrible, but the weird part for me was walking in for the third round and I was actually calmer than I was for the first two,” he said.
“I was excited because I was in good nick and ready to throw far – and I did throw far. Not as far as I wanted, but that’s life.”
Dry, meanwhile, saved his best for last and it was clear to see how much it meant for the Scottish thrower to claim his second Commonwealth bronze following injury struggles.
“Since the Olympics, I’ve got kicked off funding, I’ve had two hip reconstructions,” he said. “I know it’s not the best distance of my career, but it’s by far the best throw of my career.
“I’m a fighter, I was here to fight. I knew it was going to be tough. It was a hell of a competition.”
Canada’s Adam Keenan was fourth and England’s Taylor Campbell fifth. Northern Ireland’s Dempsey McGuigan was sixth, one place ahead of Wales’ Osian Jones, while Chris Bennett of Scotland was disappointed to place 10th.
Pleased with his performance, which included his second best ever throw, McGuigan said: “I’m happy with the place and the distance – and with doing it on this stage.
“I’ve had it in the past where I’ve let the stadium and the crowd get to me. After warm-ups and after my first throws, I felt I could get close to my best. There is a lot of pressure but as long as you get a decent early throw, you can push on.”
There was another Games record for a British athlete in the T38 long jump as Olivia Breen leapt 4.86m to win the title for Wales ahead of Australians Erin Cleaver (4.36m) and Taylor Doyle (4.22m). The winning mark was a PB by a centimetre for Breen, who won gold at the World Para Athletics Championships last summer.
New Zealand’s Tom Walsh proved he means business by also improving a Games record, but his record-breaking shot put mark impressively came in qualifying. He’ll look to go even further than his 22.45m in the final on Monday.
Records were not under threat in the men’s 5000m final, however, with the winning time of 13:50.83 the slowest in Games history. Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei had time to celebrate on his way to the finish, claiming the title ahead of Canada’s Mohammed Ahmed with a time of 13:52.78 and Kenya’s 16-year-old Edward Zakayo, who clocked 13:54.06 for bronze.
It is the first part of what could be a golden double for world 10,000m silver medallist Cheptegei, as he is also set to tackle the longer track event on Friday.
Among the 400m heat winners were Trinidad and Tobago’s Machel Cedenio (45.68), Botswana’s Isaac Makwala (46.01) and Grenada’s Bralon Taplin (45.11), with Guernsey’s Cameron Chalmers plus England’s Rabah Yousif and Dwayne Cowan joining them in the semi-finals. After clocking 45.57 to win his heat, Matthew Hudson-Smith won’t progress after being disqualified for a lane infringement.
Jamaica’s Yohan Blake went quickest in the men’s 100m semi-finals, clocking 10.06 ahead of England’s Adam Gemili with 10.11. Harry Aikines-Aryeetey won’t join his team-mate in the final, after running 10.26 for fourth in his semi-final, but Asha Philip does progress after winning hers in 11.21. Northern Ireland’s Amy Foster clocked 11.54 and England’s Corinne Humphreys ran 11.66 in their semi-finals for fourth and fifth respectively.
» See the April 12 edition of AW magazine for full in-depth event-by-event coverage from the Gold Coast Games