Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Decathlete Dale's Discus Disaster

The 2006 Commonwealth Games are entering their final throes with the last few days of action in Melbourne. It's been a decent week or two with some good performances from unsung heroes, and some pretty rubbish ones from a few established names.

Sadly, though, sometimes the differences between the Commonwealth Games and the Olympic Games are glaringly obvious. In an Olympic decathlon, for example, the competitors are of such a standard that they are competitive in all ten events, nimble enough to run the 110m hurdles fairly swiftly, yet well built enough to launch the shot nearly 20 metres.

However, in the Commonwealths, some of the decathletes let themselves down in some areas - most notably Guernsey's Dale Garland (pictured), who showed he was far better on the track than in the field.

The islander led the decathlon after the first two events, clocking an impressive 10.94 secs in the 100m, the second fastest time of the entire field, before winning the long jump with 7.36m - leaving England's Dean Macey, who went on to win the event, trailing in his wake. And then came the shot. Garland managed just 11.35m, a full four and a half metres behind Macey. As if to underline his preference for track events over field events, he went on to win the last event of day one, the 400m (his specialist event), beating the rest of the field by nearly two seconds.

Dale started day two with a reasonably competitive time in the 110m hurdles - before a disasterous discus was to virtually end all hopes of a medal. Such is his lack of prowess in the event, BBC commentator Paul Dickinson suggested that all those who" have considered discus throwing as a career should look away now",
as Garland prepared for his first attempt. Dickinson's words proved prophetic; his first throw was a foul as his foot stumbled out of the throwing area, while his second hit the cage. Facing the possibility of scoring nil points for three foul throws, Dale's third effort was a conservative 30 metres, a full ten metres behind the next best decathlete.

Not only that, he also came last in the pole vault and second to last in the javelin yet won the last event, the 1500m, by two and a half seconds. His performances on the track were enough to make up for his deficiancies in the field events and Dale wound up a very respectable fifth in what was his first major competition. And it turns out his last as a decathlete - rather sensibly Dale's decided to concentrate on the 400m hurdles.


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