During the first day at the World Athletics Championships, there were two British competitors whose attempts at qualification in their field events were the dampest of damp squibs.
In the morning session, the men’s Pole Vault qualifications saw Steve Lewis fail in all three attempts at his opening height of 5.40m to crash out of the competition with no height.
Later on in the evening session, Long Jumper Lorraine Ugen similarly failed to record a mark with three no jumps in her qualification competition.
In such a technical event as the Pole Vault, a no-height isn’t an altogether unusual occurrence, and athletes clearly want to delay their entry into the mix until the bar is as high as they dare, with the count back scenario never far from their minds.
But in a World Championships is it not a glaring lack of professionalism to come out without registering a height?
Lewis hadn’t reached the World Championships “A” standard of 5.70m this year, but his past reputation got him the nod for the team with a “B” standard ahead of the man who beat him at the UK trials, Luke Cutts – both men cleared 5.65m this year, but only one man could go the Moscow.
It does suggest that 5.40m wasn’t a crazily over ambitious height to have opened at, but one can only imagine the thoughts of Cutts sat at home watching the man he beat at the trials.
Didn’t Lewis have an even greater responsibility to perform given his selection based on past, rather than recent, exploits?
Even worse, in the Long Jump, an event far harder to fail to register a mark in, Lorraine Ugen didn’t qualify for the championships in the same way Steve Lewis had, but to fail to register a mark is a sign of her inexperience at this level.
At least she has that mitigating factor in her favour, but is it not an obvious tactic to ensure a mark is registered in round one, or at worst round two, by ensuring you take off behind the board?
Perhaps I’m being overly critical, and the fine margins of competition at this level lead to such failures every now and then.
It happens to the best of them sometimes, but having both come so far it seems such a waste to go home with a big “x” against your name.