CHRIS TOMLINSON has refused to rule out one final tilt at the Commonwealth Games in 2018 after his fourth appearance at the competition ended with him still without a medal.
Having finished sixth in the 2002 and 2006 Games, and failed to make the final while injured at the 2010 Commonwealths in Delhi, Tomlinson at least posted his best ever performance as he finished fifth in Glasgow last night.
But there was a sense of what might have been as he only managed to leap 7.99m, more than 20cm below his seasonal best, which would have been good enough to take gold ahead of Greg Rutherford.
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As it was, Rutherford added the Commonwealth title to his Olympic crown with a jump of 8.20m, and Tomlinson was left to reflect on another missed opportunity on the major stage.
The Teessider boasts a European bronze medal and a silver from the World Indoors, but his 12-year career at the highest level arguably deserves greater recognition, and even at the age of 32, he is reluctant to bow out without adding to his medal haul.
“I always said I’d go to 2017 and then call it a day,” said Tomlinson. “But I haven’t got a Commonwealth medal, and I’d love one. I’ve been sixth a couple of times and now I’ve been fifth, so there’s a frustration there that I haven’t been able to make the top three.
“I’m one of these athletes that loves what they do, and that keeps driving me forward. There are some athletes who do it because it pays the bills, but I do it because I love it.
“I got into it when I was younger because I loved it, and I still love competing at these big stadiums in front of these big crowds. I do it because I’m passionate about it, so we’ll see what happens in the future.”
Tomlinson was nursing a leg injury going into last night’s final, and while his quadriceps muscles held up, he never looked completely comfortable as he was tearing down the runway.
That said, his six-jump sequence was still extremely consistent, featuring four jumps between the 7.93m and 7.99m mark.
“When you’re getting everything you can out of your tank you tend to be consistent, and that’s what happened,” he said. “I was getting almost everything I could out of myself, there just wasn’t enough in the tank.
“I don’t want to keep going on, but I’ve had injury problems since the start of June, and when I tried to dig a bit deeper, it just wasn’t there. The bottom line is that Greg was the best guy out there and he won fair and square.”
Rutherford’s great grandfather, Jock, was a Newcastle United footballer who played in front of a world record crowd of 121,452 at Hampden Park when he helped England secure a 1-1 draw with Scotland in 1908.
The reigning Olympic champion wasn’t quite able to claim a world record of his own, but having briefly lost the lead to South African Zarck Visser, he displayed impressive resolve to set the longest distance of the night with his very next jump.
“It’s a fantastic feeling,” said Rutherford. “This is why we do it. You go through all the early-morning training sessions and do all the hard work to be able to stand on top of the podium with a gold medal.
“Some people might say the Commonwealth Games are not all that important, but I completely disagree. I think they’re massively important.”
York heptathlete Jess Taylor was so convinced she would not be competing at the Commonwealths that she bought tickets for the event at the start of the year.
Last night, her cousin joined the rest of her family in what should have been her seat to watch the 25-year-old claim a shock bronze medal after a two-day display that added almost 450 points to her previous lifetime best.
Taylor, who has just completed an architecture degree in Manchester, set a new personal best in three of the seven heptathlon disciplines, and displayed considerable guts to hold on to her bronze-medal position during a gruelling 800m.
“I just can’t believe I’ve got a bronze medal,” said Taylor. “As a family, we actually bought tickets to watch the Commonwealth Games, so I think it’s fair to say that none of this was on the radar at all. It’s ridiculous really.
“I have no idea where that came from. It’s been a ridiculous year. I’ve just finished my seven-year architecture degree, I’ve got a Commonwealth medal and I’ve put about 440 points onto my PB. It’s incredible. To do what I’ve just done makes it the best year of my life.”
Taylor would not have been in the field had Jessica Ennis-Hill not been taking a year out after having a baby, and her position in the England team changed again when pre-Games favourite Katarina Johnson-Thompson was forced to pull out with injury and Morgan Lake opted to compete at the World Junior Championships instead.
“My ambitions changed when Kat and Morgan pulled out,” said Taylor, whose father, Peter, is a former chairman of City of York Athletics Club. “Suddenly, it turned into me being the top girl for England, and I was just desperate to do what I could for the team.
“I haven’t really thought about the future, but now I’ve finished university, I guess I could think about focusing on full-term training for a bit. I hadn’t made any decisions on that prior to the Commonwealths, so I guess I’m going to have to have a think now.”