HIGH jumper Allan Smith is determined to prove his worth on home soil at Glasgow 2014 after leaving the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games in London wondering “what if”.
With the Commonwealth Games right around the corner, Scot Smith headed to a specially-built stadium on Horse Guards Parade on Sunday for some last-minute competition.
However, his appearance in the UK capital as British Athletics celebrated the two-year anniversary since London hosted the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games did not quite go according to plan.
For the 21-year-old, who claimed bronze at the European Under-23 Championships in Tampere last year, finished last out of the six competitors in action. While Canadian Olympic and world bronze medallist Derek Drouin claimed victory with a best height of 2.32m, Smith could only clear 2.16m as he struggled to make the most of home advantage.
It doesn’t bode well with the Scottish high jumper hoping to give a home crowd something to cheer about when he takes to a transformed Hampden Park for the Commonwealth Games.
But he is determined not to let lightning strike twice, adamant he has a big jump in him and convinced there is no better place to prove that than at a home Commonwealth Games.
“That competition was not great to be honest,” said Smith, who hopes to compete throughout the Sainsbury’s Summer Series.
“A big height is in the tank just waiting to come out but it hasn’t happened yet which is just frustrating for myself.
“I am not sure why it is not happening and that is why it is so frustrating. But I am now ready to go out and attack the Commonwealth Games.
“I am still feeling confident and I know I can perform well. I always do when there are medals up for grabs.
“I know coming into championships in the UK or internationally that I am there to fight and get up on the podium if I can.
“First things first. I need to get the business done in the qualification and then hopefully I make the final and then we see what happens there.”
Despite the result, Smith certainly played his part as the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games looked to celebrate two years on from the London Olympics and Paralympics.
As well as a specially-built stadium on Horse Guards Parade, The Mall was also used to stage races in between the afternoon and evening sessions – Smith competing in the latter. And, while Drouin was victorious in the high jump, England’s Chris Baker also got the better of Smith as he finished fourth with a best leap of 2.21m.
The pair are expected to go head to head in Glasgow but, rather than talk up a rivalry for Glasgow 2014, Baker admits Smith’s presence is a reassuring one.
“It is always nice to be out there and be able to have a chat with guys like Allan,” said Baker. “If something is going rough you can always talk to someone and calm down a bit.
“It is good to have the other guys there. I was a bit disappointed with my height but my run up is starting to come together again, which is good timing for the Commonwealth Games next week.
“That is excellent news for me. It is amazing here, it is a great venue.
“I have not jumped at anything like this before but it is certainly something I want to do again.
“I am just going to chill out and relax now and go and enjoy Glasgow. I am aiming for a medal, I really want a medal. I feel, with my early form this season, that I can jump high and get a medal.
“I don’t want to put a limit on it and 2.30m is obviously a big height for high jumpers but I am knocking on that door.”
Also in action in London were Smith’s fellow Scottish athletes Luke Caldwell and Steph Twell – both competing on The Mall in between the two Horse Guards Parade sessions.
In the iconic setting, with Buckingham Palace as a backdrop, both more than held their own, Twell finishing seventh in a women’s one-mile race in 4:38.00 minutes.
Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba took victory in 4:28, while Caldwell was involved in a men’s two-mile race and crossed the finish line in an impressive fifth place.
He clocked 8:34.00, American Bernard Lagat seven seconds quicker for victory.
Smith, meanwhile, insisted that he will learn his lessons from London yesterday.
“There was a great atmosphere out there and luckily the rain just held off until the very end,” he added. “It was a good surface to compete on and I really enjoyed myself and it got me excited for the Commonwealth Games.
“As a Scot, the Commonwealth Games will be about holding it together and not getting too hyped up by the home crowd.
“I need to get my run sorted and the rest will take care of itself hopefully.”
• Sainsbury’s is proud to support British Athletics through the Summer Series events and is committed to helping young people lead healthier, more active lifestyles. For more information visit www.sainsburys.co.uk/legacy