The Scottish Athletics Throws Grand Prix series kicked off on 8 April at Craigswood Stadium in Livingston. Initially a bit chilly with a bit of a breeze but it soon brightened up and was quite warm at times in the sun, perfect for throwing things! The atmosphere was relaxed (no numbers at throws events!) and it was odd to wander around on the track with next to no-one running past, indeed there were people all over the track around the various throws positions, many in their deck chairs, with young kids scootering and small dogs at large.
The TEL-related contingent consisted of U20 Alison Pringle (though wearing her first claim club vest for Annan), U17 Connor Currie, U15 Joanne Welch, with Joanne’s younger brother U11 Michael Welch representing Haddington Running Club. All were pleased to learn they would get six shots at each event, meaning less pressure. Moreover the throwers have a very civilised habit of ringing the “last lap” bell each time they have set a new personal best, something we got used to hearing throughout the day with competitors sometimes running back and forth to it between throws.
Connor opened proceedings with a 29.76m throw in the discus, which was a good new personal best, and looked like he could still throw it further as that was a fairly flat throw. At the other end of the stadium Joanne was pleased to get 6 decent javelin throws all with the pointy bit in the ground, her best of 16.13m with the 500g javelin advancing on her old personal best of 14.58m with the lighter 400g. However still plenty room to improve with some very impressive throws seen from other competitors, down to quite young ages.
Connor and Joanne then swapped positions, and with the 700g javelin Connor got close to his 27.58m personal best set the previous weekend, while Joanne threw 18.93m in her first competitive event with the 1kg discus (personal best at 750g was 21.59m). Alison also set a great distance of 26.73m in the discus, not far off her best from last year. Michael completed the discus set with his debut entry reaching 12.56m.
The shot put and hammer events commenced after lunch. We were impressed to see a big guy in a GB vest hitting the wooden board at the far end of the throwing area with his first warm up (no spins), a warning to the officials to look out for the ball!!! Back to reality with Joanne and Michael throwing in the first round, but with Joanne pushing up her recent personal best with the 3kg shot from 7.43m set at Edinburgh indoors to 8.24m, and Michael reaching 7.27m with the 2.72kg, which is also a competition personal best. By its nature this event tends to be about inching forward, literally, with personal bests, and this was Joanne’s twelfth in the last couple of years (not counting increments set during events, sometimes with each successive throw!) – but she was also pleased to get back above her previous best set with the lighter 2.72kg shot last summer. Connor also got very close to his personal best from the Edinburgh indoors, which is 10.53m at the 5kg weight.
The most impressive event came last with the hammer throwers launching their dangerous implement great distances down the field. Alison produced a number of throws over 26m, her best being 29.51m, which remarkably was just 1cm short of her personal best set at Meadowmill last August. So she did not get to ring the bell, but still very impressive to watch and maybe something the younger competitors might like to try in the future…