Alana Boyd braves foul weather for pole vault gold

Alana Boyd winning the Commonwealth Games pole vault gold medal. Picture: REUTERS

Alana Boyd winning the Commonwealth Games pole vault gold medal. Picture: REUTERS

COMMONWEALTH GAMES

The weather is so regularly miserable in Scotland they have their own language for it. It was a dreich night at Hampden Park.

Like the idea that the Eskimos have 50 words for snow, the Scots have crafted their own vocabulary for degrees of foul weather. This was a night that tested even the Scots vocabulary and Alana Boyd's reserve. It was weather Boyd would never even consider training in.

It was so bad Glasgow's Commonwealth Games organisers looked at moving the pole vault to three other indoor venues, holding it a day later at a village 30 kilometres away or even taking it across the country and out of the rain belt to Aberdeen 238km away.

"I said you can't do that, it's these girls' Commonwealth Games," said Ray Boyd, a former Olympian and Alana Boyd's father and coach.

So after a delay they went ahead. Then athlete after athlete tried and failed to get a height at all. Even at less than four metres.

Eventually, only four athletes cleared a height and they all won a medal.

Before the Games Alana Boyd had jumped more than 20cm higher than any other woman in the Commonwealth Games field, she was so superior she was the unbackable favourite. Yet this night, this weather, turned all expectation on its head.

Boyd planned to open her jumping at a lower height than normal - just 4.25m - but changed her mind to start even lower again when she saw athlete after athlete fluff it in the sheeting rain.

"There were girls not clearing heights at 3.80. It was treacherous conditions," she said.

So Boyd dropped her entry height to 4.15m. And still missed. Twice. She was down to one more attempt. Miss it and she is out.

Boyd was using training poles and running from an abbreviated 12-step run-up like in training and trying to jump a height that on any other day she would have time and space to take a selfie as she flew over the bar. Yet in sheeting rain everything was different.

"Oh my gosh, I have never been happier to clear 4.15 in my whole life," she said. "Then from there I got myself into the competition."

The Welsh athlete, Sally Peake, cleared at 4.25m but Boyd passed at that height and instead waited for 4.35m which she cleared first go. Boyd then cleared at 4.40m and the gold was hers.

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