With a gold medal hanging round his neck, a first national title under his belt and a queue of autograph hunters stretching further than one of his elongated limbs Hall Green high jumper Tom Parsons savoured ‘the best day of my life’ after hitting the heights with an outstanding display at the Alexander Stadium.
The Birchfield Harrier not only won his event but did so with a height of 2.30 metres that gives him the A Standard he needs to be considered for selection for the Olympic Games which start next month.
With two men having already exceeded that height this year, Martyn Bernard and Samson Oni, Parsons knew he had to achieve something he’d never managed before if his Beijing dream was to be fulfilled.
He responded to the pressure brilliantly and sailed over his first four jumps including a hugely impressive 2.27m – just 2cm short of his personal best. With the rest of the contenders falling by the wayside Parsons thrilled his home crowd with his second attempt at the qualifying height.
His first was close but his second was the perfect combination of power and control that should this afternoon see him confirmed as a member of the Great Britain team. There is still some suggestion the selectors might require more than one A standard but bearing in mind the 2.29m and tenth place he pulled off at the world championships last year, that is surely a minor concern.
“I have done everything I can,” Parsons said. “I feel like I am living a dream. You hope it is going to work out perfectly but for 80 per cent of people on the day it doesn’t. I am just grateful it clicked. I have been aiming to peak at these trials, I have trusted my body and trusted in my training and even at 2.30m I felt really good. If anything my 2.33m attempt was a better jump.
“I would love to improve on my tenth position last year, hopefully get into the top five and if I can get 2.33m or 2.35m maybe push for a medal.
“Getting to the final of the World Champs last year was pretty special but to join the 2.30m club is something I have dreamed about for a long time, since I started when I was 12.
“The Olympics is a different kettle of fish, it only comes along every four years. I am just chuffed to bits I can call myself an Olympian having watched on TV for so many years.”
Parsons returns to work at Aston University library and will consider his options before deciding whether to compete in Loughborough on Thursday. Not that he needs to now the pressure is off.
Also in the same position are Christian Malcolm, Craig Pickering and Greg Rutherford who also registered qualifying standards for the first time this season.
Malcolm stormed past Alex Nelson to win the 200m in 20.52 seconds while Pickering was third in Saturday’s 100m final in a time of 10.19secs. Both results leave Coventry’s Marlon Devonish facing and uphill struggle to make the team in anything other than the 4x100m relay.
Rutherford denied Birchfield’s Nathan Morgan a national title with a fifth round leap of 8.20m that brought him the long jump crown and a probable call up for China.
Helen Clitheroe set a national record in winning the 3,000m steeplechase and she is now certain to make the trip while Phillips Idowu confirmed his position as the form triple jumper in the world with an effort of 17.58m that is the best outdoor mark of 2008 and complements the 17.75m he produced to win the world indoor title in March.
Most talk, however, was of Dwain Chambers’s stunning 100m title on Saturday in ten seconds flat, the fastest legal time by a Briton this millennium. Chambers will find out on Wednesday whether he has successfully appealed against his lifetime ban from competing at the Olympics. Parsons has no such worries.